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“ Ravely is a bocflc wiitteh ronod State pRiwis whicb^ Is at 
once so sound in learning, so inftirmiog, anq so fascinating^ to 
read as thk. It publishes for the first time domiioents ^hichW 
4nit for the diligence of the authors, would probably never hav<l 
come under English eyes ; it gives us an enthralling narrativ||[l 
of the vicissitadea of feeling and policy in the Forbidden City 
at the time of the Boxer rising and fne attacks on the\ 
Legations in Pekin ; and it comes as near as any book could to ' 
explaining the enigmatic character of the Enwress Dowager. 
She was the Queen Elizabeth of the Chinese Throne. No one 
who wishes to understand the China of the last half-century— 
we might say idso the China of immemorial ages— should l(^ve 
this book unread ." — TAi Spectator, 

“ For the first time this remarkable volume lifts the veil that 
diplomany bad allowed to fall over the share of the Empress in 
the events of zpoo. It is a document more illuminating thw 
perhaps any that has ever come out of China. We see, as in 
a lookiog-gl^, the inner life of the Palace. It presents for 
die first ume a vivid .and coherent picture of the whole career 
and ^azacter of th ^ masterful woman who was for half-a- 
century a de /acio tM\ot of the^Chinese Empire. Historically 
this document is of the highest importance ." — The Times, 

**Of the greatest possible interest. The diary affords a 
panorama of Chinese Court life in its most poignant moments, 
such as without doubt has never before been offered to 
Europe judgment. The whole of the historical narrative is 
carefully wrmight and closely argued ; the authorities consulted 
me fint'hand and valtmble ; and the picture is always {till of 
iQovement and colour." — Duily TeUgra^h, ^ 

“The authors have done more than write an, admirable 
biography. They have given a picture, authimtative. in- 
structive, and absorbingly interesting» of the Cimgled akdia of 
China's political vicissitudes in the last sixty, Mars. And it is 
out of the China of Msterday that the China of to-motfow 
must emerge.”— Tlis Z?ai^ News, 

“ We have the Empress Dowai^ to die lifis . . . . 
arresting, commanding woman, emose word was mw in China 
for ball>aH:entury. It is a narrative that holds one with m 
Intense fascination. This sober record of events surpasses in 
interest die wildest fendos of romantic , 

—Tea Dtnly CerpSMCia. 


Thk “Ih)iv AIohikr/' Hkr Maiksiy Tzr Ilsi. 

(I'font a /iLotOi^raph taK'cn in igo;) 








First printed October ^ 1910. 

New Impressions t November ^ December y 1910; 
February y May, July, December y 1911; 

Aprily 1912. 

New and Revised Cheaper Editiony September, 1914. 




The Authors havet)een honoured by the following com- 
munication from His Royal Highness Prince Henry of 
Prussia concerning his audience with the Empress 
Dowager on the 15th of May 1898. The account herein 
given of the circumstances which led to the first reception 
of the ladies of the Diplomatic Body at the Court of 
Peking is of permanent interest, and the Authors gratefully 
avail themselves of the opportunity which presents itself, 
in preparing the revised edition of this work, to make 
it public. 

“Whilst holding an appointment as Rear-Admir^, 
Second in Command of the German Cruiser Squadron in 
China in 1898, I had the opportunity of visiting Peking and 
of being admitted to an audience before the late Empress 
Dowager and the late Emperor. 

“ I was given to understand that an audience of this kind 
was quite out of the common, and that no European had, 
in the past, ever stood before a Chinese Empress so long 
as Chinese history existed, but that it had been Her 
Majesty’s particular wish to receive me on this occasion, 
probably much against the wishes of her advisers, though 
perhaps her object was to prove that she was the sdvereign 
in power. 

“The audience took place on the 15th of May 1898, at the 
Summer Palace, Wan Shau-Shan, on which occasion all 



the pomp of a Chinese ruler was displayed; the audience 
with the Emperor took place after I had been to see the 

“ The day before my reception, I had called on the 
Foreign Ministers in Peking, making the acquaintance of 
the British Minister, Sir Claude Macdonald and of Lady 
Macdonald. They both showed a keen interest in next 
day’s event; so much so that, in the course of conversa- 
tion, Lady Macdonald asked me if I would mind conveying 
a message to the Empress Dowager on behalf of the ladies 
of the Foreign Legations then residing in Peking. I con- 
sented, whereupon Lady Macdonald requested me to ask 
the Empress whether she would he willing to receive the 
ladies of the Foreign Legations at any time, or on any day, 
that would be convenient to Her Majesty. I promised I 
would do my best, should a favourable opportunity present 
itself, but that I could not, of course, guarantee my success, 
knowing nothing of the circumstances under which I would 
be received nor being sufficiently acquainted with Chinese 

“The occasion did present itself, however, during a lull 
in the conversation, when I shot my bolt and laid the 
question before Her Majesty, who, after some consider- 
able hesitation, answered that she was wijling to receive 
the ladies in about a fortnight or three weeks’ time. 

“On my return to Peking, this news was received with 
much enthusiasm, and, as far as I recollect, the ladies were 
received some three weeks afterwards. Should there be 
any doubt about my statements, I am sure Sir Claude as 
well as Lady Macdonald will confirm them. 

“The reason why I mention these facts is that, at the 
time, this interview created quite a sensation and was 
looked upon as a new departure in Chinese history, which, 
to the best of my knowledge, it was. Furthermore, I refer 
to them because there is no mention of these proceedings 
in the famous book China Under the Empress Dowager, 
which otherwise contains so many interesting details of 
the late Empress’s life. Probably the Authors were 


ignorant of the aforesaid facts, which, I think, merit to 
be related, inasmuch as they form a missing link in the 
description of the life of that great and powerful ruler, 
for whom, since I saw her, I always have had the greatest 


































. XIV 









HER majesty’s NEW POLICY 358 


HER majesty’s LAST DAYS 37O 








THE ^^HOLY mother/’ HER MAJESTY TZtJ HSI . FrOfltispitCt 


To fact 












To face feen^e 










VING 282 





(1) Tting Hua Men, the East Gate 
Glorious. This is the usual 
entrance to the Forbidden 
City for officials attending 
audience when the Court is 
there resident. (It was here 
that was suspended in a 
basket the head of the 
foreigner captured by the 
Boxers on 20th June.) 

(2) Huang Chi Tien, or Throne 
Hall of Imperial Supremacy. 
In this Hall the Empress 
Dowager, after the return of 
the Court from exile, was 
accustomed to receive her 
officials in audience on the 
rare occasions when she lived 
in the Forbidden City. It 
was here that her remains lay 
for nearly a year awaiting the 
day of burial. 

(3) Ning Shou Kung, or Palace 
of Peaceful Longevity. Here 
the Old Buddha resided during 
the siege; here she buried 
her treasure. She returned 
hither after the days of exile 
and lived in it pending the 
restoration of the,Lake Palace, 
desecrated by the foreign 

(4) Chien Ching Kung. or Palace 
of Heavenly Purity. The 
Hall in which China's Emperors 
were accustomed to give 
audience to the Grand Council. 
After the Boxer rising, in 
accordance with the new 
ceremonial laid down by the 
Peace protocol, the Diplo- 
matic Body were recei'N^^ed 
here. In this Hall the Em- 
peror Kuang Hsii discussed 
and decided with K'ang Yu- 
wei the reform programme of 
1898, and it was here that 
his body lay awaiting sepulture 
between November 1898 and 
February 1909. 

(5) Shen Wu Men, or Gate of 

Divine MilitaryJ Genius. 
Through this, the Northern 
^te of the City, the Old 
Buddha fled in the dawn of the 
15th August 1900. 

(6) The Rock Garden in which Her 

Majesty used to walk during 
the days of the siege of the 
Legations and from which she 
witnessed the burning of the 
Han-lin Academy. 

(7) Yang Hsin Tien, or Throne 

Hall of Mental Growth. In 
this Palace the Emperor T'ung- 
Chih resided during the whole 
of his reign. 

(8) Hsi Hua Men, or West Gate 

Glorious. One of the main 
entrances to the Forbidden 

(9) Tai Ho Tien, Throne Hall of 

Exalted Peace. Used only 
on occasions of High cere- 
mony, such as the accession 
of a new Emperor, an Im>> 
perial birthday celebration, 
or the New Year ceremonies. 

(10) Shou Huang Tien, or Throne 

Hall of Imperial Longevity. 
In this building the reigning 
sovereign unrolls on the day 
of the New Year the portraits 
of deceased Emperors, and 
pays sacrifice to them. 

(11) Hsi Yuan Men, Western Park 
Gate. It is through this that 
the Grand Council and other 
high officials pass to audience 
when the sovereign is in resi- 
dence at the Lake Palace. 

(12) At this gate the Emperor was 
wont to await, humbly kneel- 
ing, the arrival of the Old 
Buddha on her way to or 
from the Summer Palace. 

(13) The Altar of Silkworms, at 

which the Empre^ Consiprt 
must sacrifice once a year, and 
where the Old Buddha sacri- 
ficed on occasion. 

(14) A Lama Temple where the 

Am tiBf Mm 


Old Buddha frequently wor- 

(15) Ta ] tisi Tien, the Temple 
of the Great Western Heaven. 
A famoiis Buddhist shrine 
built in the reign of the Em- 
peror Kang Hsi. 

(16) The Old Catholic Church built 
within the Palace precincts 
by permission of the Emperor 
Kang-Hsi. It was converted 
by the Empress Dowager into 
a Museum in which was kept 
the collection of stuffed birds 
made by the missionary P^re 
David. Eye-witnesses of the 
siege of the French Cathedral 
in 1900 have stated that the 
Empress and several of the 
ladies of the Court ascended 
to the roof of this building 
to watch the attack on the 
Christians ; but it is not likely 
that they exposed themselves 
for any great length of time 
in what must have been a 
dangerous position. 

(17) Tzu Kuang Ko, Throne Hall 
of Purple Effulgence. The 
building in which Qie Emperor 
is wont to receive, and enter- 
tain at a banquet, the Dalai 
and Panshen Eamas and cer- 
tain feudatory chiefs. Before 
1900 Foreign Envoys were also 
received here. 

(18) Ching Cheng Tien, or Throne 

Hall of Diligent Government. 
Used for the audiences of 
the Grand Council when the 
Court was in residence at the 
Lake Palace. 

(19) Li Yuan Tien, Throne Hall of 
Ceremonial Phoenixes. Part 
of the Empress Dowager’s 
new Palace, built for her in 
the earljr years of Kuang 
Hsu’s reign. Here she re- 
ceived birthday congratu- 
lations when resident at the 
lake Palace, and here she 
gave her valedictory audience, 
just before her death. 

(20) Ying Tai, or Ocean Terrace, 
where the Emperor ^Kuang 
Hsii was kept under close 
surveillance after the coup 
d*Hat in 1898, and which he 
never left (except on one 
occasion when he attempted 

to escape) between September 
1898 and March 1900. By 
means of a drawbridge, this 
Ocean Terrace was made a 
secure place of confinement. 
After the return of the Court 
in 1902, His Majesty lived 
here again, but under less 
restraint, and it was here that 
he met his death. 

(21) At this point stood the high 

mound which Her Majesty 
is reported to have ascended 
on the night of 13th June 
1900, to watch the conflagra- 
|tions in various parts of the 

(22) The White Pagoda, built in 

the time of the Yuan dynasty 
{circa 1290 a.d.), when the 
artificial lake was also made. 

(23) Wan Shou ssu, the Temple 
of Imperial Longevity. Here 
the Empress was accustomed 
to sacrifice on her journeys 
to and from the Summer 

(24) The residence of Ching Shan, 
where the Diary was written. 

{25) The residence of Wen Lien, 
Comptroller of the Household 
and friend of Ching Shan. 

(26I Residence of Jung Lu. 

(27) Place of the Princess Imperial, 

the daughter of Prince Kung, 
whom the Empress Dowager 

(28) Birthplace of the present in- 

fant Emperor, Hsuan T’ung, 
son of Prince Ch’un and grand- 
son of Jung Lu. In accord- 
ance with prescribed custom, 
it will be converted into a 

(29) Birthplace of H.M. Kuang 
|Hsu. Half of this building 

has been converted into a 
shrine in honour of HisMajesty 
and the other half into a 
memorial temple to the first 
Prince Ch’un, grandfather of 
the present infant Emperor. 

(30) Pewter Lane, where Yehonala 
was born. 

(31) Palace of Duke Chao, younger 

brother of Tzii Hsi. 

(32) Palace of Duke Kuei Hsiang, 
elder brother of Tzu Hsi 
and father of the present 
Empress Dowager. 


(33) point was erected the 
scaffolding from which guns 
were trained on the Legations. 
The soldiers on duty here 
were quartered in the house 
of Ching Shan. 

(34) The execution ground where 

were put to death the Re- 
formers of 1898 and the 
Ministers who, in 1900, pro- 
tested against the attack on 
the Legations. 

(35) The residence, in 1861, of 

Tsai Yiian, hereditary Prince 
Yi, who was put to death by 
Tzu Hsi for usurping the 

(36) Residence of Tuan Hua, the 
Co-Regent with Tsai* Yuan, 
also allowed to commit suicide 
in 1861. 

(37) The Imperial Clan Court, in 
which is the " Empty Cham- 
ber,’* where the usurping 
Princes met their deaths. 

(38) Residence of the “ Beileh ** 
Tsai Ying, son of Prince Kung, 
cashiered for complicity in 
the Boxer rising. 

(39) The site of the Chan-Ta-ssu, 
a famous Lama Temple, de- 
stroyed by the French in 1900 
for having been a Boxer 
drilling ground. 

(40) Residence of the Chief Eunuch, 
Li Lien-ying, 

(41) Now the l^lgian Legation 
premises, but formerly the 
residence of the Boxer pro- 
tagonist, Hsu T'ung, that 
fierce old Imperial Tutor whose 
ambition it was to have his 
cart covered with the skins 
of foreign devils. 

(42) The Imperial Canal, by way 
of which the Old Buddha 
used to proceed in her State 
barge to the Summer Palace. 

{43) The graves of the Empress 
Dowager’s parents. They are 
adorned with two marble 
pillars, bearing laudatory in- 

(44) Here was erected the tem- 
porary railway station at 
which the Empress alighted 
on her return from exile. 

(45) In the north-west corner of 
the enceinte of the Chien Men, 
a shrine at which the Empress^ 

Dowager and the Emperor sac- 
rificed to the tutelary god 
of the dynasty (Kuan Yu), 
the patron saint of the 

(46) At this point many Christians 
were massacred on the night 
of the 13th June 1900. 

(47) Palace of Prince Chuang, the 

Boxer leader, mentioned by 
Ching Shan as the place where 
the Christians were tried. 

(48) Residence of Yuan Ch'ang, 
where he was arrested for 
denouncing the Boxers. 

(49) Residence of the Grand Secre- 
tary, Wang Wen «hao. 

(50) Residence of Yang Li-shan, 

the President of the Board 
of Revenue, executed by 
order of Prince Tuan. 

(51) Residence of Duke Lan, the 
Boxer leader. At present 
occupied by Prince Pu Chiin, 
the deposed Heir to the 
Throne and a most notorious 

(52) Tzu Ning Kung, or Palace of 
Maternal Tranquillity, where 
the Empress Dowager Tzu 
An resided during most of 
the years of the Co-Regency. 

(53) Chang Ch'un Kung, or Palace 

of Perpetual Spring, where 
Tzu Hsi resided during the 
reign of T'ung Chih. 

(54) Residence of the actors engaged 
for Palace performances. 

(55) The Nei Wu Fu, or Imperial 

Household Department 

(56) The Taoist Temple (Ta Kao 

Tien), where the Emperor 
prays for rain or snow. 

(57) . ( 5 ^) III these two Palaces 

resided the chief Imperial 
concubines. After Tzu Hsi s 
resumption of the Regency in 
1898, Kuang Hsii and his 
consort occupied small apart- 
ments at the back of her 
Palace, on the brief visits of 
the Court of the Forbidden 

(59) Chung Ho Tien, or Thrqne 
Hall of Permanent harmony. 
Here H.M. Kuang Hsu was 
arrested in September 1898 
and taken away to confine- 
ment in the ** Ocean Terrace.** 




(1) Prince Tun (** generous ") : honorific title of Yi Tsung, 

fifth son of Emperor Tao Kuang. He was adopted to 
be son to his uncle. Mien K'ai, son of Emperor Chia-ch'ing 

(2) Prince Tuan C orthodox ") : honorific title of Tsai Yi, 

second son of Prince Tun ; he was adopted to be son of 
I-Yo, Prince Jui, grandson of Chia-ch'ing. 

(3) Duke Tsai Lan : third son of Prince Tun, a Boxer leader. 

(4) Prince Rung {“ respectful : honorific title of Yi Hsin, 

sixth son of Tao Kuang. Born Jan. ii, 1833, died May 
29, 1898. 

(5) Prince Ch'un C generous **) : seventh son of Tao Kuang, 

Born 'Oct. 16, 1840. Died Jan. i, 1891. 

(6) Tsai T*ien : the Emperor Kuang Hsii, second son of Prince 

Ch'un. Canonized as Emperor Virtuous and Illus- 
trious ” ; Married Yehonala, daughter of Duke Kuei 
Hsiang, who survives him and is now the Empress 
Dowager Lung Yu ('* blessed and prosperous ' J. 

(7) Tsai Feng : the present Regent. Third son of Prince Ch'un 

by a concubine. (His personal name is taboo.) 

(8) P'u Yi : Emperor Hsiian-Tung, son of (7). 

(9) P'u Lun : son of Tsai Chung ; is now president of National 

Assembly. In the legitimate line of succession he was 
the rightful heir to the Throne. 

(10) Duke Tsai Ts^ : grandson of Prince Hui, the fifth son of 

Emperor Chia Ch'ing. He married the Empress Lung 
Yii’s sister. Is generally considered one of the strongest 
Manchus now in office. 

(11) Beileh Tsai Ch'u : son of Prince Fu (‘* trustworthy '*), ninth 

son of Emperor Tao Kuang. Cashiered and imprisoned 
by Tzfi Hsi at the time of the coup d*itat\ restored to 
office by Regent on the same day that Yuan Shih-k’ai was 
dismissed. He married Tzfi Hsi's favourite niece. 



(12) Prince Su {''reverential**) : descended from a younger son 

of Nurhachu. He is one of the eight “ Iron-capped 
Princes, whose titles are hereditary for ever. 

(13) Prince Cheng {" sedate ") : named Tuan Hua, one of the 

usurping Kegents. An “ Iron-capped '' Prince and de- 
scen^nt of Nurhachu. 

(14) Prince Yi {" harmonious **) Tsai Yuan : one of the usurping 

Regents. Descended from younger son of K'anghsi. 

(15) Jung Lu : kinsman and favourite official of Tzh Hsi. 

(16) Huai Ta Pu (son of Grand Secretary Jui Lin, who com- 

manded the Manchu force at the battle of Pa-li-chiao 
against the British and French forces in i860) : a kinsman 
of Tzh An. He committed suicide in 1900, overcome 
by his grief and wrath at being forced by the Japanese 
troops to work at carting sand amongst a crowd of 

. (17) Kuei Hsiang : Duke Kuei, younger brother of Tzh Hsi and 
father of Lung Yii. 

(18) Duke Chao : younger brother of Tzh Hsi and father of 

Duke TL 

(19) The Princess Imperial, or Ta Kung chu : daughter of 

Prince Kung (No. 4 above). Specially adopted as 
daughter by Tzh Hsi; now a widow with three sons, 
all holding appointments in the army. 

(20) Lady Liu : wife (originally concubine) of Jung Lu. The 

Empress Dowager's closest friend. 

(21) Po Chiin : Grand Secretary. Decapitated as the result of 

Su Shun's jealousy in Hsien Feng's reign; grandfather 
of Na T'ung. 

(22) Na T'ung : Grand Councillor and present head of Foreign 

Office. Probably the most powerful of the Regent's 
advisers and the head of his party. 

(23) Ch’i Ying : was Manchu viceroy of Canton after Treaty of 

Nanking ; was allowed to commit suicide, at Yehonia's 
suggestion, for failing to procure withdrawal of the 
foreign warships from Tientsin in 1856. He was con- 
sidered to have leanings to Christianity, which made 
him the more unpopular. 

(24) Su Shun : one of the usurping Regents of the Tsai Yuan 


(25) Chon Tsu-p’ei : Grand Secretary during ist regency. 

26) Kuei Liang : Grand Secretary during ist regency. 



(27) Ho ^en : the famotis Grand Secretary under the Emperor 

Ch’ien Lung, who was allowed to commit suicide by Qua 
Ch'ing. Said to have accumulated £14,000,000 in 

(28) Ching Shan : Grand Councillor on T'ung-Chih's succession. 

(29) Mu-Yin : Grand Councillor on T*ung-Chih's succession. 

(30) Muyanga : sometime Taotai in Kuangsi ; father of Empress 

Tzd An, and benefactor of Tzh Hsi. 

(31) Ch'ung Ch'i : father of A-lu-te and tutor to Heir Apparent, 

P*u Ch’iin. Was President of Board of Revenue; his 
suicide was recorded by Jung Lu. 

(32) Prince Chuang, Tsai Hsiin (Chuang, honorific title, *1neaning 

austere '*) : a Boxer prince and descendant of younger 
son of Nurhachu. 

(33) Tsai Rung, Duke Rung ; younger brother of Prince Chuang, 

and now inheritor of latter’s title. Tzii Hsi restored the 
hereditary princedom on the ground that it would be an 
insult to Nurhachu’s memory if it were abolished. 

(34) Ruei Pao ; Minister of Household under T’ung-Chih. 

(35) Wen Hsi : Minister of Household under T'ung-Chih. 

(36) Ruei Ching : uncle of Tuan Fang ; Minister of Household. 

(37) Tuan Fang : ex- Viceroy ; cashiered in 1909. It is recorded 

that on one occasion the Empress Lung Yii, observing 
that he stared at her, exclaimed : “ Had her late Majesty 
been in my place, where would your head have been ! ’ 
Tuan Fang 4 s unpopular with Manchus for his outspoken- 
ness. At the time of his cashiering, was impeached by 
Li Hung-Chang’s eldest grandson and heir, Li Ruo-chieh 
(now Minister at Brussels). He lives in retirement, but 
is said to be intriguing to secure Lung Yu’s favour 
and a post in the new cabinet. 

(38) Ch’en Tu-en : one of Hsien Fing’s high officials ; removed 

from office by Tzti Hsi. 

(39) An Te-hai : favourite eunuch of Tzii Hsi ; decapitated in 

Shantung by orders of her Co-Regent, the Empress 
Tzii An. 

(40) An Wei-chun ; Censor, removed from office and banished 

at Tzii Hsi’s instigation, in 1895, for criticising her. private 
life. Restored to office in October 1910 by the Regeijt, 
and given a high place at Court. 

(41) Chang Chih-tung : Grand Councillor and Grand Secretary, 

Died Oct. 1909. 



(42) Chang Yin-huan ; native of Canton ; an adherent of the 

Emperor Kuanghsii; he was banished by Tzh Hsi, and 
decapitated by Prince Tuan's orders. Posthumous 
honours have been conferred on him by the Regent. 

(43) Chao Shu-ch'iao : native of Shensi ; allowed to commit 

suicide (on account of his Boxer proclivities) at Hsi-an 
Fu in 1901. 

(44) Ch'en Pao-chen : governor of Hupei ; Kuang Hsii's ad- 

herent ; cashiered by Tzh Hsi. 

(45) Empress Chia Shun admirable and obedient ") : honorific 

title conferred on A-lu-te after the death of her husband, 
the Emperor T'ung-Chih. 

(46) ChT Hsiu : Manchu Grand Councillor, and Boxer leader ; 

decapitated at Peking by order of the Empress Dowager 
on the demand of the Allies in 1901. 

(47) Ching Hsin : Manchu Grand Secretary and Imperial 


(48) Ching Shan : Manchu Vice-President of a Board {vide 

biographical note at page 166). 

(49) Ching Yiian-shan : Prefect of Shanghai ; cashiered in 1900 

for requesting Tzfi Hsi to restore the government to 
Kuang Hsii. 

(50) En Ch'u : eldest son of Ching Shan. 

(51) En Hai : murderer of German Minister in June, 1900. 

(52) En Lin : son of Ching Shan. 

(53) Hsii Ching-ch'eng : sometime Minister to Berlin and St. 

Petersburg ; put to death by Tzii Hsi for his pro-foreign 
proclivities ; posthumous honours have been conferred on 
him by the Regent. 

(54) Hsii Shih-ch'ang : native of Chihli ; formerly one of Yiian 

Shih-k'ai's secretaries ; now a Grand Councillor. 

(55) Hsii Chih-ching : a reformer condemned to perpetual im- 

prisonment after the coup d*itat, and released after the 
fall of Peking in 1900. 

(56) Hsii T'ung : Grand Secretary and Boxer leader ; com- 

mitted suicide in 1900 on fall of Peking. 

(57) Hsii Ying-ku'ei : native of Canton ; dismissed as a re- 

actionary by H.M. Kuang Hsii; reappointed to office 
by Tzii Hsi and appointed Viceroy of Fuhlden and 

(58) Hsii Yung-yi : a native of Chekiang ; President of the Board 

of War ; put to death by Prince Tuan in Aug. 1900 for 
sympathising with foreigners. 


(59) Hui Chang : Manchu Censor and Imperial Clansman ; one 

of the moderates in 1900. 

(60) Hui Cheng : Taotai of Anhui ; father of Tzii Hsi ; post- 

humously raised to a dukedom. 

(61) Kang Yi : leading Boxer and prominent Manchu re- 

actionary ; died during Court's journey in 1900. 

(62) K’ang Yu-wei : leader of the reformers of 1898 ; sentenced 

to death and price put upon his head after his escape. 
Will probably be pardoned by the present Regent and 
permitted to return to China. 

(63) Liang Ch'i-ch'ao : K'ang Yu-wei's colleague, lieutenant, 

and fellow exile. Will also probably be pardoned by 
the present Regent and given office. 

(64) Liao Shou-heng : native of Kiangsu ; Grand Councillor 

from March 1898 to Dec. 1899. 

(65) Lien Yiian : Manchu executed by Prince Tuan in Aug. 

1900 for pro-foreign proclivities. Has since received 
honour of canonisation by Decree of the Regent; he 
and Li Shan (vide below) have had shrines erected to 
their memory in Peking. 

(66) li Lien-ying ; successor of An Te-hai as chief eunuch of 

Tzh Hsi's Household. 

(67) Li Hung-chang : native of Anhui ; Viceroy of Canton, 

Tientsin, etc., and Peace negotiator in 1900. 

(68) Li Hung-tsao : native of Chihli, for many years a Grand 

Secretary aiid Grand Councillor. 

(69) Lin Hsii : one of the reformers put to death at the coup 

d* 6 tat\ posthumous honours will be given to him by 
the Regent. 

(70) Li Ping-heng : native of Manchuria ; assistant general- 

issimo in July 1900; committed suicide. 

(71) Prince Li ; (honorific title means ceremony Personal 

name Shih To ; senior of the eight ** Iron-capped " Princes, 
being a descendant of Tai shan, the second son of 
Nurhachu ; was on the Grand Council for some years ; 
still living (1911), and is head of Imperial Clan Court; 
lost most of his fortune in 1900. 

(72) li Shan : Manchu President of a Board and Comptroller 

of the Household ; friend of Jung Lu ; noted 4 or his 
collection of art treasures; put to death by Prince 
Tuan in Aug. 1900; Canonisation since conferred on 
him by Regent, (vide 65 ; Lien, Yiian). 



(73) Li Tuan-fen : a native of Kueichou and partisan of Kuang 

Hsii ; banished to the new Dominion oy Tztt Hsi. Diea 
in 1904. Has since received posthumous honours by 
order of the Regent. 

(74) Liu Kuang-ti : one of Reformers executed in September 


(75) Liu K'un-yi : native of Hunan ; Viceroy of Nanking in 

1900. Chiefly instrumental in preserving order in the 
Vangtse valley. Died in 1902, and canonised as Loyal 
and Sincere** 

(76) Lii Hai-huan : native of Chihli ; sometime Minister to 

Germany; subsequently Director General of Tientsin- 
• Pukou Railway; a prot6g6 of Tzii Hsi ; now out of 

(77) Ma Yu-k'un : native of Anhui. A rough, illiterate soldier, 

highly esteemed by Tzh Hsi, who issued a decree bidding 
her Manchu kinsmen imitate his loyal devotion. He 
accompanied the flight of the Court in 1900. Died 
September 1908. 

(78) Lady Niuhulu : clan name of Tztt Hsi's mother. 

(79) Prince Seng-ko-lin-chin : a Mongol prince and descendant 

of Ginghis Khan. Killed by the rebel leader Chang 
Tsung-yu in Shantung in 1864. Tztt Hsi held him in 
high honour. 

(80) Shen Chin, the reformer who was flogged to death at the 

Board of Punishments by Tztt Hsi's command (1898). 

(81) Sheng Pao : Manchu General ; allowed by Tztt Hsi to 

commit suicide for having disobeyed her orders. 

(82) Sun Chia-nai ; native of Anhui. Imperial tutor {pide 

biographical notes). Died 1909. 

(83) Sung Po-lu : a Censor cashiered by Tztt Hsi in 1898. His 

honours have been restored to him by the Regent. 

(84) Sun Yu-wen : native of Chihli, and for some years Grand 

Councillor. A favourite of Tztt Hsi. 

{85) T'an Chung-lin : native of Hunan ; Viceroy of Canton. 
Died at Peking in 1900. 

(86) T'ang Shao-yi : a Lieutenant of Yuan Shih-k'ai, and 

Governor of Moukden; now out of office owing to 
hostility of Lung Yii's party. 

(87) T'an Ssu-t'ung : one of the reformers executed in 1898 ; 

son of a former governor of Hupii. 

(88) T’ao Mo : native of Chekiang ; Viceroy of Canton, where he 




(89) Ting Ju-ch'ang : native of Anhui ; Admiral in Chinese 

Navy; committed suicide at Weihaiwei in 1895. (Hsi 
reputation not so high among Chinese as among 

(90) Ting Pao-chen : Governor of Shantung in 1869. He 

carried out the execution of An Te-hai. 

(91) Ts’en Chun-hsiian : native of Kuangsi, and son of the 

Viceroy, Ts’en Yii-ying; Gk)vernor-Elect of Shensi in 
1900; a favourite of Tzh Hsi, who made him Viceroy 
of Sshch’uan, and subsequently at Canton, whence he 
suppressed the Kuangsi rebellion; was summoned to 
Peking and made President of Yu Ch'uan pu in 1907, 
but Prince Ching and his corrupt followers dreaded his 
fearless honesty and induced Tzh Hsi to remove him. 

(92) Tseng Kuo-fan : native of Hunan ; suppressed the Taiping 


(93) Tso Tsung-t’ang : native of Hunan and a distinguished 

general. Rose to be Grand Secretary and Councillor. 
Died in 1885. 

(94) T*ung-Chih, Emperor : son of Tzh Hsi. 

(95) Tung Fu-hsiang; originally a Mahomedan bandit; be- 

came imperialist General and greatly distinguished 
himself during the siege of Legations in 1900. 

(96) Tzh An : Empress Dowager of the East, and daughter of 


(97) Tzh Hsi : tl\e “ holy mother " ; Empress Dowager. 

(98) Wang Wen-shao : native of Chekiang ; sometime Viceroy 

of Chihli ; Grand Councillor and Grand Secretary ; died 
in 1909. 

{99) Weng T'ung-ho : native of Kiangsu ; Grand Secretary 
and Councillor ; Imperial Tutor. Disliked by Tzh Hsi, 
who degraded him in 1898. Died 1904. All his honours 
posthumously restored by Regent. 

(100) Wen T'i : Censor, dismissed in 1898 by Kuang Hsii ; 

sub^quently promoted by Tzu Hsi; was Prefect of 
K'ai-Feng fu when the Court stayed there in November 

(101) Wu K'o-tu : native of Kansu. The Censor who protested, 

by committing suicide, against Kuang Hsii^ accession. * 

(102) Yang Jui : one of the executed Reformers of 1898. 

(103) Yang Shen-hsiu : a Censor ; one of Kuang Hsii's party. 


(104) Yeh Ming-shen : Viceroy of Canton in 1857 > captured by 
the British and taken to India, where he died. A great 
scholar. . 

{105) Yuan Ch*ang : native of Chekiang; decapitated by Tzti 
Hsi in July 1900 for being pro-forei^. Has been 
canonised by present Regent. 

(106) Yiian Shih-k'ai ; native of Hunan; Ex- Viceroy of Chihli 

and Grand Councillor; a great favourite of Tzii Hsi. 
Present Empress Dowager, for reasons not clear, opposes 
his return to public life. 

(107) Yii Hsien : Manchu ; massacred the missionaries in Shansi, 

when Governor in 1900, and lost his head in consequence. 

(108) Yii Lu: Viceroy of Chihli in 1900 ; committed suicide after 

fall of Tientsin. 



The family of Yehonala, one of the oldest of the 
Manchu clans, traces its descent in direct line to Prince 
Yangkunu, whose daughter married (in 1588) Nurhachi, 
the real founder of Manchu rule in China and the first 
direct ancestor of the Ta Ching Emperors. Yangkunu 
was killed at Mukden in 1583, in one of his raids upon the 
territories which still owed allegiance to the degenerate 
Chinese sovereign Wan Li. His clan lived and flourished 
in that region, near the Corean border, which is dominated 
by the Long White Mountain, the true cradle of the 
Manchu stock. He and his people seem to have acquired 
the arts of war, and much lust of conquest, by constantly 
harassing the rich lands on their ever-shifting borders, 
those rich lands which to-day seem to be about to pass 
under the yoke of new invaders. Yangkunu’s daughter 
assumed the title of Empress by right of her husband’s 
conquests, and her son it was who eventually wrested the 
whole of Manchuria frorq the Ming Dynasty and reigned 
under the name of Tien-Ts’ung. 

Into this clan, in November 1835, was born Yehonala, 
whose life was destined to influence countless millions of 
human beings, Yehonala, who was to be thrice Regent of 
China and its autocratic ruler for over half a century. Her 
father, whose name was Hui Cheng, held hereditary rank 
as Captain in one of the Eight Banner Corps. Consider- 
ing the advantages of his birth, he was generally accdurited 
unsuccessful by his contemporaries; at the tin\e of. his 
death he had held no higher post than that of an Intendant 
of Circuit, or Taotai. Holding this rank in the province 
of Anhui, he died when his daughter was but three years 





of age. His widow and family were well cared for by a 
kinsman named Muyanga, father of her who subsequently 
became Empress Consort of Hsien-Feng and Co-Regent 
with Yehonala. From him the children received every 
advantage of education. 

Many unfounded and ridiculous stories have been 
circulated in recent years attributing to the Empress 
Dowager humble, and sometimes disgraceful, antecedents. 
Many of these are nothing more than the fruit of Yellow 
Journalism, seeking sensational material of the kind which 
appeals to the iconoclastic instincts of its readers. Others, 
however, undoubtedly owe their origin to the envy, hatred 
and malice of Palace intrigues, to the initiative of the Iron- 
capped Princes and other high officials of the elder branch 
of the Imperial family, many of whom were addicted to 
besmirching the family and character of Tzu Hsi in order 
to inflict “loss of face on the Yehonala clan. In this way, 
and because mud thrown from above usually sticks, their 
malicious stories were freely circulated, and often believed, 
in Peking and in the South : witness the writings of K’ang 
Yu-wei and his contemporaries.^ 

To cite an instance. One of these mythical stories used 
to be told, with every appearance of good faith, by Prince 
Tun, the fifth son of the Emperor Tao-Kuang. This 
Prince cherished a grudge against Tzu Jlsi because of his 
disappointed ambitions : himself adopted out of the direct 
line of succession, he had nevertheless hoped, in 1875, that 
his son would have been chosenx Emperor. The story, as 
he used to tell it, was that when the Empress’s mother had 
been left a widow with a large family (including the future 
ruler of China) they lived in the most abject poverty at the 
prefectural city of Ningkuo, where her husband had held 
office and died. Having no funds to pay for her return to 
Peking, she would have been reduced to beggary had it not 
been that, by a lucky accident, a sum of money intended 
for another traveller was delivered on board of her boat at 

‘ As an example of unbalanced vituperation, uttered in good faith and 
with die best intentions, 7 /fWe The Chinese Crisis from Within by “ W«nt 
Ching,” republished from the Singapore Free Press in 1901 (Grant 


a city on the way, and that the traveller, on learning of the 
mistake and being moved to pity at the sight of the family’s 
destitution, insisted on her keeping the money. Twenty- 
five years later, when Tzu Hsi had become the all-powerful 
Regent, this official appeared for audience at Peking, 
when, remembering the benefits received at his hands, the 
Empress raised him from his knees and expressed her 
gratitude for his kindness. The story is prettier than many 
which emanate from the same source, and original, too, in 
the idea of a Manchu official dying at his provincial post 
in abject poverty, but unfortunately for the truth of the 
narrative, it has been established beyond shadow of doubt 
that neither the wife nor the family of Tzu Hsi’s father were 
with him at the time of his death. They had gone on ahead 
to Peking, in anticipation of his early return thither to take 
up a new appointment in the White Banner Corps. 

Before proceeding further, it may be well to refer briefly 
to the Yehonala clan and its position in relation to the elder 
branch of the Imperial family, a question of no small im- 
portance, past and future, in its effect on the history of 
modern China. Jealousy and friction there had always 
been between the Imperial house and this powerful patrician 
clan, since the first Yehonala became de facto ruler of the 
Empire after the collapse of the Tsai Yiian conspiracy, but 
their relations became more markedly strained after the 
coup d^etat in 1898, and although the wholesome fear of the 
Empress Dowager’s “divine wrath ” prevented any definite 
cleavage, the possibilities of trouble were ever latent in the 
Forbidden City. Subsequent events at Peking, and espe- 
cially the dismissal of the Chihli Viceroy, Tuan Fang, for 
alleged irreverence at the funeral ceremonies of the Empress 
Dowager, emphasised the divisions in the Manchu camp 
and the dangers that beset its Government, once it was 
bereft of the strong hand of Tzu Hsi. It is difficult for 
foreigners to form any clear idea of the actual conditions 
of life and of party divisions in the Palace, confused as they 
are by intricate questions of genealogy, of inte^^marfiage 
and adoptions by relatives, of ancient clan feuds. It should, 
however, be explained that the Imperial Clansmen (known 


in their own tongue as Aisin Gioros) divided into the 
Yellow and Red Girdles, are the descendants respectively 
pf Nurhaphi himself and of that ruler’s ancestors, by virtue 
of which ancestry they consider themselves (and the 
Chinese would recognise the claim) to be the sang pur and 
highest nobility of the Manchu Dynasty. The Yehonala 
clan, although in no sense of Royal bloo(| (as marriages 
between the sovereign and female mehibers of ji family do 
not entitle that family to claim more than noble rank) owed 
its great jpower not only to its numbers, but to the fact 
that it has given three Empresses Dowager to |he Empire ; 
but, above all, to the great prestige an'ft personal popularity 
of Tzii Hsi. If the events between 1908 and 1911 are to be 
interpreted in the light of history and of her significant 
death-bed mandate, the leaders of the Yehonala clan .were 
det^mined that the widow of Kuang-Hsii should follow 
in the footsteps of her august aunt, and control the business 
of the State, at least during the Regency. And, thanks 
to TzQ Hsi’s far-seeing statecraft, the young Emperor, 
a grandson of Jung Lu, was trained from the first to 
reverence the policy handed down by the Old Buddha. 

One long-standing cause of suspicion and dissension 
between the parties in the Palace arose from the fear of the 
elder descendants of Tao-Kuang (of whom Prince P’u Lun 
and I^rince Kung are the chief representatives) that the 
boy-Emperor, or his father the Regent, would elevate th6 
founder of his branch (the first Priiice Ch’un) to the post- 
humous, rank of Emperor. This kind of canoi^sation 
might seem to Europeans unimportant, but in the eyes 
of the Chinese it would have constituted a, sort of post- 
humous usurpation on the part of the junior bran^ of 
the' Imperial clan, since the first Prince Ch’un would' thus 
be , placed on a footing of equality with Nurhaebi,, the 
founder of fhe Dynasty, and would practically becqme 
founder pf a new line. The first Prince Ch’un hajd toilft* 
Mlf foremen the possibility pf such an occurrence, and 
had realised that it could not fail to lead to serious trouble,'^ 
f^ . which reason, as will be seen ihereafter, he had tokep 
precautions to ptevent it. It has not escaped the attention 


of those whose business it is to watch the straws that float 
down the stream of high Chinese policy that, after the 
accession of the child-Emperor Hsiian T’ung to the 
Throne, the ancestral sacrifices made at the mausoleum of 
the first Prince Ch’un became greatly elaborated in pomp 
and circumstance, while in official documents his name 
was given “double elevation,” that is to say, in the eyes 
of the literati he was made to rank on the same level as a 
reigning Emperor. It was commonly believed by Chined 
in a position to speak with authority on the subject, that 
when the Emperor attained his majority, he would be led 
to confer further posthumous honours upon his grand- 
father, including that of “triple elevation,” which would 
place him on a footing of equality with a deceased Emperor, 
and entitle him tq worship at a special shrinip in thp Temple 
of the Ancestors qf th^e .Dynasty. From 4 Chinese con- 
stitutiokat pdMt of view, the consequences of such a step 
would have been extremely serious and difficult of adjust- 
ment. ' ' 

The Old Buddha was a strong partisan, and during ber 
lifetime her immediate kinsmen were practically above the 
law, basking in the sunshine of her protection or making 
hay thereby, so that there was always a strong undercurrent 
of friction between them and the Yellow and Red Girdles, 
friction of which* echoes frequently reached the tea-houses 
and market places of the capital. Tzu Hsi delighted to 
snub the Aisin Gioros; in one Decree she forbade them to 
reside in the business quarter of the city, on the ground 
that she had heard it said that some of them were making 
money by disreputable trades. She was by no means beloved 
of the Iron-capped princes and other noble descendants of 
Nurhachi, who, while they feared her, never ceased to 
complain that she curtailed their time-honoured privileges. 

An interesting example of her masterful methods of 
dealing with these hereditary aristocrats occurred when^one 
of the Imperial Dukes ventured to build himself ^a preten- . 
tious house in the immediate vicinity of the Imperial City, 
and overlooking a considerable portion of the Palace 
enclosure. No sooner was the building completed than the 


Old Buddha confiscated it, reprimanding the owner for his 
lack of decorum in daring to overlook the Palace grounds, 
and forthwith she bestowed it upon her younger brother, 
the Duke Chao. 

Another example of her clannishness, and of the diffi- 
culties which it created for the local authorities, occurred 
upon the establishment of the new Police Board at Peking, 
three years after the return of the Court from exile in 1902. 
The Grand Councillor, Hsii Shih-ch’ang, a Chinese by 
birth, and a favourite of Her Majesty, was placed at the 
head of this new Board, but he soon realised that the lot 
of his policemen, when dealing with the members of the 
ruling clan, was by no means a happy one. Her Majesty’s 
third brother, the Duke Kuei Hsiang, was a particularly 
hardened offender, absolutely declining to recognise police 
regulations of any kind, and inciting his retainers to “gain 
face” by driving on the wrong side of the road and by 
committing other breaches of the regulations. On one 
occasion a zealous policeman went so far as to arrest one 
of the Duke’s servants. Hsii Shih-ch’ang, hearing of the 
occurrence, promptly ordered the man’s release, but the 
Duke, grievously insulted, insisted upon an abject apology 
from the head of the Board in person. Thrice did the unfor- 
tunate Hsii call at the Duke’s palace without gaining 
admission and it was only after he had performed a “ko- 
tow” before the Duke in the open courtyard outside the 
palace that his apology was accepted. An idea of the 
importance of this incident in the eyes of the Pekinese, 
and of the power of the clansmen, may be inferred from the 
fact that Hsii subsequently became Viceroy of the Man- 
churian provinces, later President of the Ministry of Posts 
and Communications, and in August, 1910, was elevated 
to the Grand Council. On this occasion, however, the 
Old Buddha, learning of the incident, “excused” Hsii 
from further attendance at the Grand Council, and shortly 
afterwards he was transferred to Mukden. 

Yehonala’s mother, the lady Niuhulu, survived her hus- 
band for many years, residing in his house in “Pewter 
Lane ” (Hsi-la-hu-t’ung), quite close to the Legation 


quarter. When her daughter became Empress Mother, 
she received the rank of Imperial Dijchess. She appears 
to have been a lady of great ability and good sense, dis- 
tinguished even amongst the members of a clan always 
noted for the intelligence of its women kind. After living 
to a ripe old age, she was buried beside her husband in 
the family graveyard which lies without the city to the 
west, in the vicinity of the Europeans’ race-course, where 
her daughter’s filial piety was displayed by the erection of 
an honorific arch and the customary marble tablets. 
When, in January 1902, the Empress Dowager returned 
from exile by railway from Cheng-ting fu, she gained 
great kudos from the orthodox by declining to enter the 
capital by the Hankow railway line, because that line ran 
close to her parents’ graves, and it would have been a 
serious breach of respect to their meinory to pass the spot 
without reverently alighting to make obeisance. She there- 
fore changed her route, entering Peking from the south, 
to the great admiration of all her people. 

Of Yehonala’s childhood there is little to record except 
that among her youthful playmates was a kinsman, Jung 
Lu, who in after years was to play so prominent a part in 
many a crisis of her career. By common report she had 
been betrothed to him from birth. This report is not 
verifiable, but there is no doubt that the great influence 
which Jung Lu exercised over her, far greater than that 
of any of her family or highest officials, was founded in 
their early youth. K’ang Yu-wei and other Chinese 
officials opposed to the Manchu rule have not hesitated to 
assert that he was on terms of improper intimacy with her 
for years, dating from the flight to Jehol, and before the 
decease of her husband the Emperor. 

Yehonala’s education followed the usual classical course, 
but the exceptional alertness and activity of her mind, 
combined with her inordinate ambition and love of power, 
enabled her to rise superior to its usually petrifying in- 
fluences and to turn her studies to practical account in the 
world of living men. She learned to paint sTcilfully and to 
take real pleasure in the art; she was an adept at the 


composition of verses, as classically wooden in form as 
anything produced by the most distinguished of English 
public schools. At the age of sixteen she had mastered the 
Five Classics in Chinese and Manchu, and had studied to 
good purpose the historical records of the twenty-four 
Dynasties. She had beyond doubt that love of knowledge 
which is the beginning of wisdom, and the secret of power, 
and she had, moreover, the chroniclers aver, a definite 
presentiment of the greatness of her destiny. 

Upon the death of the Emperor Tao-Kuang in 1850, his 
eldest surviving son, aged nineteen, ascended the Throne 
under the reign-title of Hsien-Feng. After the expiry of 
the period of mourning (twenty-seven months) during 
which the new Emperor may not marry, a Decree was 
issued commanding that all beautiful Manchu maidens of 
eligible age should present themselves at the Imperial 
Household Office which would make from them a selection 
for the Emperor’s harem. Prior to his accession, Hsien- 
Feng had married the eldest daughter of Muyanga, but 
she had died before his coming to the Throne, Among 
the maidens who obeyed the nuptial Edict were Muyanga’s 
second daughter, Sakota, and the young Yehonala, On 
the 14th of June, 1852, about sixty of the beauty and 
fashion of the Manchu aristocracy appeared before the 
critical eye of the widow of Tao-Kuaftg, who selected 
twenty-eight from among them, and these she divided into 
the four classes of Imperial concubines, viz., “Fei,” “P’in,” 
“Kuei Jen,” and “Ch’ang Tsai.” Sakota thus became a 
”P*in,” and Yehonala a “Kuei Jen” or “honourable 
person.” With rare exceptions, these Imperial concubines 
are much more the servants of their mother-in-law than 
the wives of their sovereign. In theory, their number is 
limited to seventy, but this number is seldom maintained; 
beside them, there are within the Palace precincts some 
two thousand female Manchus, employed as handmaidens 
and general servants under the direction of the eunuchs. 
In all domestic matters of the household, the widow of the 
Emperor last deceased exercises supreme authority, and 
although precedent allows the Emperor to inspect the 


ladies selected, he has no voice in their disposition or the 
determination of their rank. 

Thus Yehohala left her home in Pewter Lane to become 
an inmate of the Forbidden City, cut off henceforth from 
all direct intercourse with her own people. An aged tiring 
woman who served her from the time of her first entry 
into the Palace until her death, is our authority for the 
following interesting description of the only visit which 
she ever paid to her family. It was in January 1857, nine 
months after the birth of her son, the heir to the Throne, 
that, by special permission of the Emperor, she was allowed 
to leave the Palace. Early in the morning, eunuchs were 
sent to announce to her mother that her daughter, the 
Concubine Yi, was coming to visit her at mid-day. There 
was much joyful excitement amongst the family and its 
friends at this rare honour. All the neighbours in Pewter 
Lane turned out to see the eunuchs and the yellow-draped 
chair. The mother and all the members of the household 
(including some of an elder generation) ranged themselves 
on either side of the entrance courtyard as the chair w^as 
borne within. At the head of the steps leading to the inner 
courtyard the eunuchs in attendance requested her to 
descend; she then entered the main room, where she took 
the seat of honour. Her family approached respectfully 
to salute her, all ^kneeling except her mother and the elder 
relatives. A banquet was then served at which, by special 
arrangement, the mother took a seat lower than that of the 
daughter, thus recognising her position as mother of the 
Heir Apparent. All present were most favourably im- 
pressed by Yehonala’s unaffected and affectionate disposi- 
tion; she seemed quite unspoiled by the formalities and 
splendours of Court life, talking with all the old vivacity 
as a daughter of the house, showing the keenest interest 
in the family^s affairs, and particularly in the education of 
her sisters. 

The banquet lasted till late in the afternoon, Yehqnala 
asking and answering innumerable questions.** As the 
short January day drew to its close, the eunuchs requested 
her to prepare to return to the Palace. She therefore took 


an affectionate farewell of her family, expressing sincere 
regret that her life must be cut off from theirs, but hoping 
that some day the Emperor might again permit her to visit 
them. Her mother, she said, would, in any case, be 
allowed to come and see her in the Palace. After distri- 
buting presents to all the niembers of her family, she 
entered her palanquin and was borne away. She never 
saw her home again, but in later years her mother used 
frequently to visit her in the Forbidden City. 

Upon entering the Palace, Yehonala proceeded to estab- 
lish herself firmly and speedily in the good graces of Tao- 
Kuang’s widow; through her influence at first, and later 
by virtue of her own charm, she soon became first favourite 
with her weak and dissolute lord ; and when, in April 1856, 
she crowned his long disappointed ambitions by present- 
ing him with an heir to the Throne, her position was com- 
petely assured. At the time of her entering the Palace, 
the Taiping rebellion was causing great uneasiness at the 
capital. In March 1853, the rebels took Nanking, the 
southern capital. Yehonala, who had already made it her 
business to read, and advise on, all Memorials from the 
provinces, used her growing influence with the Son of 
Heaven to secure the appointment of Tseng Kuo-fan as 
Commander-in-Chief, and to provide him with funds for 
the raising of train-bands in Hunan, ' with which, and 
with the help of General Gordon, Tseng eventually sup- 
pressed the rebellion. Thus early she showed her superi- 
ority to environment and the fetters of tradition, display- 
ing at a moment of national danger that breadth of mind 
and quick decision which distinguished her. By all 
official precedent, Tseng Kuo-fan was not available for 
service, being in mourning for his mother, but it was ever 
Yehonala’s opinion that precedents were meant to be sub- 
ordinate to the State and not the State to precedents, 
wherein lies the mark of the born ruler. 

In August 1855 the widow of Tao-Kuang died and 
Yehonala, in recognition “of her dutiful ministrations,’* 
was raised to the rank of “P’in,” her colleague Sakota 
having in the meanwhile become Empress Consort. 


It was the common belief of Chinese writers at this time 
that the reign pf Hsien-Feng would witness the end of the 
Dynasty, which was held to have “exhausted the mandate 
of Heaven.” All over the Empire rebellion was rife; the 
sovereign himself was a weak debauchee, incapable of 
inspiring either loyalty or affection in his people. In the 
eyes of the literati he was a degenerate, having none of 
the scholarly tastes which had made his five predecessors 
famous in history, nor any disposition to follow their 
example in the compiling of monumental editions of the 
classics and dictionaries, which have endeared their 
memory to scholars. It was, moreover, considered omin- 
ous that no heir had yet been born to him, though he was 
now twenty-five, several of his predecessors having pro- 
vided for the succession before they were fifteen. When, 
therefore, in April 1856, Yehonala gave birth to a son, and 
at the same time the rebels were driven from the provinces 
of Hunan and Kiangsi, it was felt that the tide of evil had 
turned and that Heaven’s favour once more smiled upon 
the Throne. 

At this period, the health of the Emperor, stricken with 
paralysis, had completely broken down and Yehonala, by 
virtue of her position as mother of the Heir Apparent, 
and even more by reason of her masterful character, became 
the real ruler of the Empire. Her colleague, the Empress 
Consort, took little or no active interest in the business 
of government. In actual rank, Yehonala had risen to 
the position of a concubine of the first grade “ Fei ” and 
was generally known in the metropolis as the “Kuei Fei, 
Yi,” the last word being her honorific title, meaning 
“feminine virtue.” 

Her advice on foreign affairs at this period was generally 
of an aggressive character, and the fact is not matter for 
wonder when we bear in mind her youth, her pride of race 
and her complete ignorance of foreign countries ahd^ their 
resources. On the return of the special Envoy Ch’i .Ying,. 
who had been sent to endeavour to induce Lord Elgin to 
leave Taku and whose mission had ignominiously failed, 
it was to the haughty Yehonala that common report 


credited the Decree which ordered him to be presented 
with the “ silken cord ” of self-despatch, as a mark of “ the 
Throne’s benevolent leniency.” To her also was ascribed 
the Emperor’s refusal to permit the High Commissioner 
Yeh at Canton to negotiate with the British on trade 
questions, a decision which led directly to the capture of 
that city by the foreign barbarian in the following year. 
In the records left by chroniclers and diarists of that time 
it is generally noticeable that the Emperor’s opinions and 
doings are ignored and that all the business of the Imperial 
City and the Empire had come to depend on the word of 
Yehonala, a fact in itself sufficiently remarkable in a 
country where no woman is supposed to rule, and particu- 
larly remarkable when we bear in mind that she was at this 
time only a concubine and twenty-two years of age. 

To prevent confusion arising from the several names 
and titles of the Empress Dowager, it should be explained 
that her family or clan name of Yehonala was that by which 
she was known to the world of Peking before and at the 
time of her selection for the Imperial harem. In the Palace, 
until her accession to the rank of Empress Mother (Em- 
press of the West), she was still Yehonala, but more 
usually described as the “Yi” concubine. As co-Regent 
and Empress Mother, her official designation. Imperially 
decreed, was Tzu Hsi, to which many other honorifics were 
added. To the mass of the people she was either the 
Empress Dowager {Huang T‘ai Hou) or the Old Buddha, 
and towards the end of her reign this last affectionately 
respectful title was universally used in the North. 



The causes and history of the invasion of North China 
by the allied forces of England and France are too well 
known to need re-stating here, but the part played by 
Yehonala in the stirring days which preceded and followed 
the flight to Jehol are not familiar to European readers. 
Most interesting details are given on this subject by a 
certain Doctor of Letters and member of the Hanlin 
Academy, whose diary was printed privately in narrative 
form several years later, and from this document the follow- 
ing extracts are taken . It was originally entitled “ A Record 
of Grief Incurable” and, as will be noted, it is primarily 
a monument of filial piety, into which the doings of the 
barbarians, and the already dominant personality of 
Yehonalrf, are artlessly interwoven, with a certain quality 
of sincerity that attracts. The narrative itself is full of 
human interest, 

“ In the 7th Mooii of the ‘ Keng Shen ’ year (August i860), 
five or six days after my mother fell sick, rumours began to 
circulate that the barbarians had already reached Taku. It 
was generally known that many Memorials had reached the 
Throne from the metropolitan and provincial officials, but as 
no mention of them had appeared in the Gazette, it was only 
natural that there should be a very widespread feeling of 
uneasiness and many alarming rumours. So far, however, 
there had been no fleeing from the city. His Majesty was 
seriously ill, and it was known that he wished to leave for 
the north, but the Imperial Concubine Yi and Prince Seng 
dissuaded him from this and assured him that the barbarians 
would never enter the city. 

“At this time my mother was suffering from dysentery, 
but she ordered the servants to keep it from me.* It was 
only one day, when I noticed a prescription lying on her 
table, that I realised that she was indeed seriously ill. Doctor 
Liu was in attendance, as usual, but I never had any con- 


fidence in him or his methods, which seemed to me far too 
drastic. Nevertheless he had advised and attended her for 
seven years, and my mother and all her household placed 
implicit confidence in him. Alas, the Ancients have rightly 
said that a good son should know something of the principles 
of medicine, and surely my ignorance has been the first cause 
of my mother’s death. Though I should give up my life a 
hundred times, how can I ever atone for this? 

“During the next few days, people began to leave Peking, 
for the report was spread that our troops had been defeated 
at Taku, and that a Brigadier General was among the slain; 
the garrison had fled from Pei T’ang and the forts were in 
the hands of the barbarians. Prince Seng had been ordered 
by Edict not to fight a pitched battle, so that our forces were 
idly confronting the enemy. Nothing definite was known as 
to the real cause of our defeat, and the people, being kept in 
ignorance, gradually got over their first alarm. 

“On the 13th of the 7th Moon, I noticed a change for the 
worse in my mother’s condition, and straightway applied for 
ten days’ leave of absence from my official duties. I kept 
her ignorant of the political situation and urged her to abstain 
from worry of every kind. But every day the news was worse, 
and people began to leave the city in thousands. 

“On the following day. Magistrate Li Min-chai looked in 
to say good-bye, as he was leaving to join the troops in 
Anhui. He expressed strong disapproval of Dr.^, Liu’s pre- 
scription and gave me one of his own. My mother was averse 
to taking his medicine, but I persuaded her to do so. In the 
night she was suddenly seized with shortness of breath, and 
hastily I sent for Mr. Li, who assured me that this was in 
no way due to his medicine. My mother, however, insisted 
upon returning to Dr. Liu’s prescription, so all I could do 
was to urge him to compound it of drugs less strong and 
more suited to a patient of my mother’s advanced yeara. 

“ My mother then bade me to prepare her coffin as she was 
certain that her death was near. Fortunately I had bought 
the wood eight years before at Mukden, and had stored it in 
a coffin shop in Peking, whence I now had it fetched. We 
set carpenters to work in our courtyard, and by the 20th, the 
coffin was finished. The wood was beautifully thick, and the 
whole appearance of the coffin most creditable. Never could 
I have expected that at such a time of haste and general 
disorder so perfect a piece of work could have been produced. 
The carpenters assured me that at the present time such a 
coffin would cost at least a thousand taels in Peking.^ This 
comforted me not a little. 

1 About £ 120 . 


“Next morning the lacquer shop people sent over to put 
on the first coating of lacquer, in which at least two pounds 
were used. We then sent for the tailor and six assistants to 
make the grave clothes and purchased the materials for my 
mother's ceremonial ‘ going away dress. * I had a long sable 
robe made up, but next day, as my mother appeared to be 
slightly better, I decided to postpone having the long outer 
robes prepared. Rumours were now rife that the barbarians 
had already reached Tungchou, and were going to bombard 
Peking on the 27th, so that everyone was escaping who could 
leave the city. On the 27th, we put on the second coating 
of lacquer. 

“On that day, our troops captured the barbarian leader 
Pa Hsia-li (Parkes) together with eight others, who were 
imprisoned in the Board of Punishments. Thereupon the 
whole city was in an uproar, and it became known that His 
Majesty was preparing to leave on a tour northwards. But 
the Concubine Yi persuaded some of the older officials to 
memorialise, urging him to remain, none of which Memorials 
have been published. All the Manchu and Chinese officials 
were now sending their families away and their valuables, but 
the large shops outside the main gate were doing business as 
usual. My mother's condition remained much the same, and 
I applied for another ten days’ leave, 

“On the 1st of the 8th Moon, we applied another coating 
of lacquer to the coffin. On the same day Dr. Liu changed 
my mother's medicine, but the dysentery continued unabated. 

“On the 4th my mother called me to her bedside and 
said ; * I cannot possibly recover. See that all is prepared for 
the burial. I shall take no food to-day.' I felt as if a 
knife had been thrlist into my vitals, and sent straightway 
for the tailor to hurry on with the ceremonial robes. My 
friend, P’an Yu-shih, called and recommended a purgative, 
but my mother was very angry, and refused point-blank to 
take it. In the night she had a violent attack of vomiting, 
which seemed to relieve her — so much so, that I told the 
tailor not to be in too great a hurry. Next morning the 
robes were finished^, but my mother thought the cpverlet too 
heavy, and I substituted therefor a lighter material, silk. 
To this she objected as being too luxurious and more expen- 
sive than she had any right to expect; she observed that 
her parents-in-Iaw had not had grave-wrappings of such 
valuable stuff. Meanwhile the confusion in Peking was hourly 
increasing, and huge crowds were hurrying from the city! 
Most of the city gates were closed for fear of the bart^arians, 
but the Chang Yi gate in the southern city was still open. 

“On the 7th, our troops engaged the barbarians outside the 
Ch'i Hua gate. The van was composed of untrained Mongol 


€:a.v^lry, who had never been in action. No sooner had the 
barbarians opened fire than they turned as one man, broke 
their ranks and stampeded upon the infantry in their rear. 
Many were trampled to death, and a g-eneral rout followed, 
our men fleeing in every direction and the barbarians pressing 
on to the city walls. 

** Certain Princes and Ministers besought the Concubine Yi 
to induce the Emperor to leave on a tour. His Majesty was 
only too anxious to start at once, but the Concubine Yi per- 
suaded two of the Grand Secretaries to memorialise against 
his doing so, and in response to this a Decree was issued 
stating that under no cirumstances would the Emperor leave 
his capital. Another Decree was put out by the Concubine 
Yi offering large rewards to any who should slay the barbarians. 
It was generally thought that the Emperor would now forgo 
his intended departure. 

“Early next morning we heard the news of another engage- 
ment outside the Ch*i Hua gate, upon which news His Sacred 
Majesty, attended by all his concubines, the Princes, Ministers 
and Dukes, and all the officers of the Household, left the city 
in a desperate rout and disorder unspeakable, affording a 
spectacle that gave the impression that hordes of barbarians 
were already in close pursuit. As a matter of fact, the 
foreigners were still at a considerable distance, ' and at the 
Summer Palace, where the Court lay, there was nothing what- 
soever to cause the slightest apprehension. I cannot under- 
stand why His Majesty was allowed to leave ; up to the very 
last the Yi Concubine begged him to remain in his Palace, as 
his presence' there could not fail to awe the barbarians, and 
thus to exercise a protecting influence for the good of the city 
and people. How, said she, could the barbarians be expected 
to spare the city if the Sacred Chariot had fled, leaving unpro- 
tected the tutelary shrines and the altars of the gods? She 
begged him to bear in mind that episode in the Chou Dynasty, 
when the Son of Heaven fled his capital, ‘ his head covered 
with dust,’ and was forced to take refuge with one of his 
feudatory Princes. The Chinese people have always regarded this 
as a humiliating event in the history of their country, but the 
present flight of the Court appears more humiliating still. 

“Meantime my mother’s condition was becoming critical, 
and I had scant leisure for considering £he political situation. 
Evi|ry official pf any standing had eithdr left the capital by 
thi^^ time or was leaving, *and all the merchants who pouM 
afford it were sehding their families away. Th6 cost of 
ti^an^ort wa$ prohibitive for many; the price of a. cart with 
one to go to ;Chb-chou was twenty taels, and to Pao- 
tmg fu (6o miles)' they charged thirty taels. In my case 
th^ could be no question of removing my mother^ and there 


was nothing for It .therefore , but to sit still and face the 

“As the dysentery jgftew more apute every day, with Dr. 
Liu's permission I tried Dr. Yang's prescription. It was* 
however, top late, and nothing could help her n 6 v(r* On the 
morning of the 12th she was in extremis, and had lost tl^ 
power of swallowing; so we sent for Li, the tailor, to a 
few finishinuj touches on the burial robes, and to prepare, 

‘ cockcrow pillow ' and coverlets. At ii p.m. she passed 
abandoning her most undutiful son. Alas, there is no doubt 
that her death lies at my door, because of m.y ignoranep of 
medicine. Smiting my body against the ground, I invoke 
Heaven, but ten thousand separate deaths could not atone fbr 
my sins. 

“We arrayed her, then, in her robes. First her hand- 
maiden put on the inner garments, a chemise of white silk, 
then a jacket of grey silk, and outside that a wadded robe of 
blue satin. Then were put on the robe and mantle of State, 
with the badge of her official rank, the jade girdle and neck- 
lace of amber. After the gold hair ornaments had been placed 
in position, the Phoenix hat was set upon her head; red mat- 
tresses were laid upon the couch, and we placed her in a 
comfortable position, with her head reclining on the ‘ cock- 
crow * pillow of red satin. Not a friend came near us, apd 
every door in the neighbourhood was closed. Next mording 
I lined the coffin with red satin, and then padded with 
sWaw to prevent it shaking, and at 3 p.m. I invited my mother 
to ascend into her ‘ long home. ’ 

“The city was in a terrible tumult, and a friend came in 
to advise me to bUr^j my mother temporarily in a temple out- 
side the city. It would not be safe, He said, to inter her in 
the courtyard of this house, for the barbarian is suspicious by 
nature, and will assuredly search every house in Peking as 
soon ^s the city, is taken, k was impossible for me to cons^r 
calfhly what might happen if they were to find and to desecrisl^ 
my mother's coffin. I remembered what has been told of thejr 
doings in Canton under similar circumstances. 

“On the 14th, the Chang Yi gate was opened^ ^*^4 ^ fopnd 
a tenlple, suitably situated, which the priest was willing* to 
allow me to rent. I prepared therefore to watch over isgf 
mother's remains, sending my family in the meanwhile to ijye 
with an old pupil df mine at Pa-chou. Only the two westfe;^ 
gates of the Chinese city were still open, and as the 
Men and the Ch^ien Men had been closed for four, days,* th^ 
stream d traffic through the Shun Chih Men caused p«rf>eiiial 
blocks in that gateway. All the small pedkirs, hdwkers and 
barbers were fleeing the city, but still the large business houses 
remained opep. , 



“On the 19th I conveyed my mother’s remains to the 
temple; I found all quiet there, but my progress through the 
city gate was very slow because of the crowd. On the 23rd 
there were but few people abroad, and these clustering together 
in small groups and speaking in low voices. Suddenly, a little 
after mid-day, an immense blaze was seen to the north-\yest, 
and speedily it was reported that the barbarians had seized 
Hai-tien and the Summer Palace. Our army is said to number 
half a million men, and yet it seems that not one of them dare 
oppose the barbarians’ advance. They have about a thousand 
of cavalry, yet they move about at will in our midst as if in 
an uninhabited wilderness ! ’Tis passing strange I The 
troops of Prince Seng and General Sheng have retreated to 
the Te Sheng gate. 

“On the 24th all the shops were closed, and the higher the 
price of vehicles, the greater the number of people to wish to 
engage them. The poorer class were using wheelbarrows, on 
which they packed their most valuable moveables for flight. 

“Prince Kung sent an Envoy to the barbarians’ camp with 
a despatch asking for an armistice. On arriving in the 
vicinity of the camp, however, the messenger saw the 
barbarians pointing rifles at him, so that he turned and 

“On the afternoon of the 24th, vast columns of smoke were 
seen rising to the north-west, and it was ascertained that the 
barbarians had entered the Summer Palace, and after plunder- 
ing the three main halls, leaving them absolutely bare, they 
had set fire to the buildings. Their excuse for this abominable 
behaviour is that their troops got out of hand, and had com- 
mitted the incendiarism. After this they issued notices, 
placarded everywhere, in very bad Chinese, stating that unless 
terms of peace had been arranged before mid-day on the 29th, 
they would then bombard Peking, in which case all inhabitants 
who did not wish to share the fate of the city had better remove 
themselves to a safe distance. 

“On this day it was reported that Tlie Sacred Chariot had 
reached Jehol in safety, but His Majesty had been greatly 
alarmed, and had issued a Decree expressing regret for his 
failure to commit suicide on the approach ot the invaders. 
The Emperor is reported to be ill, and it is said that the 
Princes Tsai Yuan and Tuan Hua are trying to get themselves 
appointed to the Grand Council. Should the Emperor die 
(Ztt. * when ten thousand years have passed ’) the Yi concubine 
will be made Empress Dowager, but at present she is reported 
to be at variance with the Princes, who are endeavouring to 
prejudice the Emperor against her. 

“I learnt that all was quiet at the temple where my 
mother’s coffin rests. Troops were passing there daily, but, 


so far, none had occupied it. On the 29th, my servant-boy, 
Yung ’Erh, came to tell me that troops from Tientsin in the 
pay of the barbarians had occupied the temple, but on pro- 
ceeding thither I found them to be General Sheng’s men. 
Prince Seng's troops were also near at hand, so that, if a 
bombardment had taken place, what could have prevented 
the destruction of the temple, and what would then have become 
of my mother's remains? 1 therefore decided to engage wheel- 
barrows and handcarts, at six taels apiece, to take my family 
to Pao-ting fu, and I arranged with the undertakers to hire 
bearers for the coffin. 

“At II a.m. of the same day the barbarians entered the 
city by the Anting gate, occupying its tower and the wall 
adjoining. One large cannon and four small ones were placed 
in position on the wall, and a five-coloured flag hoisted there. 
With the exception of the officials entrusted with the duty of 
negotiating, not one remained in the city. Two days ago the 
prisoner Parkes, and his companions, were sent back to the 
enemy with every mark of courtesy. Scarcely had they reached 
their camp when a special Decree, post-haste from Jehol, 
ordered Prince Rung to decapitate them all forthwith as a 
warning to the bandits who had dared to invade the sacred 
precincts of the Palace. As the Yi concubine had urged their 
execution from the very first, it would seem as if her influence 
were again in the ascendant. 

“On the I St of the 9th Moon, the Chang Yi gate was 
closed, but I managed to leave the city by the Hsi Pien Mdn, 
where I was nearly crushed to death in the enormous crowd. 
Upon my arrival at the temple, I had a nice wadded cover 
made to put over tj;ie coffin, and then hurried back to the city 
to arrange for the cortege leaving next morning. The Pre- 
sident of the Board of Finance, Liang Hai-lou, was hiding 
in the temple precincts with his family and chief concubine, 
all wearing common clothes and unshaven. This is a good 
example of the condition to which the very highest had been 

“Next morning, on reaching the temple, I found the coffin- 
bearers and transport coolies on the spot. But, unfortunately, 
in my hurry, I failed to notice that the undertakers had supplied 
the frame, on which the coffin is carried, of a size smaller .than 
had been agreed upon, so that instead of sixteen bearers there 
were but eight. We started, however, and the processipn's 
appearance of panic-stricken fugitives was most distressing 
to contemplate. But what could I do? The first aijd only 
object in my mind was to protect my mother’s coffin. • I have 
omitted to state that my small servant-boy, Yung 'Erh, had 
started to accompany the coffin on foot. But, after they had 
started, it occurred to me that the lad- could never stand so long 


a journey, and that should my mother be aware of it, she would 
be extremely anxious about him. Therefore, I quickly engaged 
another wheelbarrow for Yung ’Erh, and bade the coolies 
hurry after the procession. 

“On returning home I felt uneasy about the jolting which 
my mother's coffin must have experienced on the undersized 
frame. I went, therefore, to the undertakers and expostulated 
with them for having cheated me. After much altercation 
they agreed to change the frame, but 1 \i^as to pay two taels 
more for the larger size. I subsequently learned that they 
failed to keep their promise, but there was no good to be got 
by suing them for breach of faith. They are sordid tricksters. 
Yung ’Erh wrote, however, to assure me that the party had 
reached Pao-ting fu in safety, and that the coffin had not been 
jolted in the least. On removing the wrappings the lacquer 
was found to be undamaged. 

“The barbarians were now in full possession of the city, 
and rumours were rife on all sides. Everyone in Peking — 
there were still a good many people — was terrified, and the 
Manchus were sending their families from the Tartar to the 
southern (Chinese) city to save their women from being out- 
raged by the barbarian bandits. The condition of the people 
was indeed deplorable in the extreme. One of the Censors 
had sent a Memorial to Jehol, reproaching the Emperor for 
the pass to which he had brought his people, and for the neglect 
of ancestral worship caused by his absence. He blamed His 
Majesty for listening to evil advisers, and besought him to 
return to his capital. 

“The minds of the people were becoming more than ever 
disturbed, because it was now reported that the negotiations 
for peace had so far failed, either because Prince Rung would 
not entertain the barbarians* conditions, or because the latter 
were too utterly preposterous. 

“pn the 6th, a despatch arrived from the British barbarians, 
accusing China of having violated all civilised usage in tortur- 
ing to death their fellow-countrymen. For this they demanded 
an indemnity of 500,000 taels. At the same time came a 
despatch from the Russian barbarians, saying that they had 
heard that England was demanding this indemnity, but they 
(the Russians) were prepared to use their influence and good 
offices to persuade the British to abate their claims. Prince 
Rung was of opinion that, even if they should be successful 
in this proposed mediation, China would only save some 
100,000 taels, and for this she would place herself under heavy 
obligations to Russia. So he replied, declining tfie offer on the 
ground that the British claim had already been accepted by 
China, and that further discussion of the matter was therefore 
impossible. Thereupon the Russians wrote again, saying that 



if China had definitely accepted the British terms there was, 
of course, nothing more to be said, but they asked Prince 
Kung to note that they had induced England to forgo half of 
the indemnity of two million taels originally asked, as a set-off 
to China for the destruction of the Summer Palace. On the 
9th, Prince Kung forwarded the 500,000 taels to the British 

‘*The whole sixteen articles of the barbarians’ demands have 
finally been accepted without modification. The only thing 
that our negotiators asked was the immediate withdrawal of 
the invading army, and to obtain this they were prepared to 
yield everything. Therefore, the barbarians openly flout China 
for her lack of men. Woe is me; a pitiful tale, and one hard 
to tell ! When the Vi concubine heard of Prince Kung’s com- 
plete surrender to the barbarians she reproached the Emperof 
for allowing his brother to negotiate, and she implored him 
to re-open hostilities. But His Majesty was dangerously ill, 
and refused to leave Jehol, so that our revenge must be 
postponed for the time being.” 

Bearing in mind the frequent allusions made by the 
Hanlin diarist to the Emperor’s indecision of purpose at 
the time of the advance of the British and French armies 
on Peking, it is reasonable to assume that Yehonala 
prompted, if she did not write, the following vigorous 
Edict, which appeared on the 3rd day of the 8th Moon in 
the loth year of Hsien-Feng (6th September i860) : — 

“ Swaying the wide world, we are nevertheless animated by 
one and the same instinct of benevolence to all. We have never 
forbidden England and France to trade with China, and for 
long years there has been peace between them and us. But 
three years ago the English, for no good cause, invaded our 
city of Canton, and carried off our officials into captivity. We 
refrained at that time from taking any retaliatory measures, 
because we were opmpelled to recognise that the obstinacy of 
the Viceroy Yeh had been in some measure a cause of the 
hostilities. Two years ago the barbarian Commander Elgin 
came north, and we then commanded the Viceroy of Chihli, 
T’an Ting-hsiang, to look into matters preparatory to negotia- 
tions. But the barbarian took advantage of our unreadiness, 
attacking the Taku forts and pressing on to Tientsin. * Being 
anxious to spare our people the horrors of war, we 
refrained from retaliation and ordered Kuei Liang -lo discuss 
terms of peace. Notwithstanding the outrageous nature of the 
barbarians’ demands, we subsequently ordered Kuei Liang to 
proceed to Shanghai in connection with the proposed Treaty 


of Commerce, and even permitted its ratification as earnest of 
our good faith. 

‘‘In spite of all this the barbarian leader Bruce again dis- 
played intractability of the most unreasonable kind and once 
more appeared off Taku with a squadron of warships in the 
8th Moon. Seng Ko Lin Ch’in thereupon attacked him fiercely 
and compelled him to make a hasty retreat. From all these 
facts it is clear that China has committed no breach of faith 
and that the barbarians have been in the wrong. During the 
present year the barbarian leaders Elgin and Gros have again 
appeared off our coasts, but China, unwilling to resort to 
extreme measures, agreed to their landing and permitted them 
to come to Peking for the ratification of the Treaty. 

“ Who could have believed that all this time these barbarians 
have been darkly plotting and that they had brought with 
them an army of soldiers and artillery, with which they 
attacked the Taku forts from the rear, and, having driven 
out our forces, advanced upon Tientsin ! Once more we 
ordered Kuei Liang to go to Tientsin and endeavour to reason 
with them, in the hope that they might not be lost to all sense 
of propriety, and with the full intention that their demands, 
if not utterly unreasonable, should be conceded. To our utter 
astonishment, Elgin and his colleague had the audacity to 
demand an indemnity from China; they asked, too, that more 
Treaty ports should be opened, and that they should be allowed 
to occupy our capital with their army. To such lengths did 
their brutality and cunning lead them ! But we then com- 
manded Prince Yi and Mu Yin, the President of the Board of 
War, to endeavour to induce in them a more reasonable spirit 
and to come to some satisfactory arrangement. But these 
treacherous barbarians dared to advance their savage soldiery 
towards Tungchou and to announce their intention of com- 
pelling us to receive them in audience. 

“Any further forbearance on our part would be a dereliction 
of our duty to the Empire, so that we have now commanded 
our armies to attack them with all possible energy and we 
have directed the local gentry to organise train-bands, and 
with them either to join in the attack or to block the barbarians’ 
advance. Hereby we make offer of the following rewards ; — 
For the head of a black barbarian, 50 taels, and for the head 
of a white barbarian, 100 taels. For the capture of a barbarian 
leader, alive or dead, 500 taels, and for the seizure or destruc- 
tion of a barbarian vessel, 5,000 taels. The inhabitants of 
Tientsin are reputed brave. Let them now come forward and 
rid us of these pestilential savages, either by open attack or by 
artifice. We are no lovers of war, but all our people must 
admit that this has been forced upon us. 

“As to the barbarians’ seizure of portions of our territory 



in KuangtUng and Fukhien, all our subjects are alike our 
children and we will issue large rewards to any of them in 
the south who shall present us with the head of a barbarian 

“These barbarians live in the remote parts of the earth, 
whence they come to China for purposes of trade. Their out- 
rageous proceedings have, we understand, been encouraged 
by abominable traitors among our own subjects. We now 
command that all the Treaty ports be closed and all trade with 
England and France stopped. Subjects of other submissive 
States are not to be molested, and whensoever the British and 
French repent them of their evil ways and return to their 
allegiance, we shall be pleased to permit them to trade again, 
as of old, so that our clemency may be made manifest. But 
should they persist in their wicked violation of every right 
principle, our armies must mightily smite them, and pledge 
themselves solemnly to destroy utterly these evil-doers. May 
they repent while yet there is time ! ” 

Three days later Yelionala was present at the morning 
audience, when the Emperor made the following state- 
ment : — 

“We learn that the barbarians continue to press upon our 
capital. Their demands were all complied with, yet they insist 
upon presenting to us in person their barbarous documents of 
credentials, and demand that Prince Seng shall withdraw his 
troops from Chang-Chia wan. Such insolence as this makes 
further parley impossible. Prince Seng has gained one great 
victory already, and now his forces are holding the enemy in 
check at Palich’iao!” 

Orders were issued that the landing of troops from the 
warships which had appeared off Kinchou should be 
stoutly resisted. 

On the 7th of the Moon His Majesty sacrificed at the 
Temple of Confucius, but on the next morning he was 
afraid to come into the city from the Summer Palace, 
although he wished to sacrifice to the tutelary deities and 
inform them of his intended departure. Early on the 
following day Prince Kung was appointed Plenipotentiary 
in the place of Prince Yi (Tsai Yiian) and the Emperor, 
despite the brave wording of his Decree, rfed from the 
capital, after making obeisance to the God of War in a 
small temple of the Palace grounds. In the Decree 


announcing his departure, the flight was described as an 
•‘autumn tour of inspection.”^ 

The Court started in utter confusion, but proceeded only 
some eighteen miles on the road northwards from Peking, 
stopping for the first night in a small temple. Here a 
Decree was issued calling upon all the Manchurian troops 
to hasten to Jehol for the protection of the Court. On the 
evening of the following day a Memorial was received 
from Prince Kung, reporting on the latest doings of the 
barbarians, but His Majesty ordered him, in reply, to take 
whatever steps he might think fit to deal with the situation. 
It was out of the question, said the Rescript, for the 
Emperor to decide on any course of action at a distance : 
in other words, the Throne divested itself of further 

On the nth, the Court lay at the Imperial hunting lodge 
north of Mi-Yiin hsien. The Chinese chronicler records 
that the Emperor was too sick to receive the Grand Council, 
and delegated his duties to Yehonala, who thereupon issued 
the following Decree : — 

*‘We are informed that the pestilent barbarians are pressing 
upon our capital, and our Ministers have asked us to summon 
reinforcements from the provinces. Now the highest form of 
military art is to effect sudden surprises, carefully pre- 
arranged. The barbarians’ superiority lie§ in their firearms, 
but if we can only bring them to a hand-to-hand engagement 
they will be unable to bring their artillery to bear, and thus 
shall our victory be assured. The Mongol and Manchu horse- 
men are quite useless for this kind of warfare, but the men 
of Hupei and Ssti-ch’uan are as agile as monkeys and adepts 
at the use of cover in secret approaches. Let them but surprise 
these bandits once, and their rout is inevitable. Therefore let 
Tseng Kuo-fan, the Commander-in-chief of Hukuang forces, 
send up at least three thousand of his best troops to Peking, 
and let as many be despatched from SsU-ch’uan. Prince Seng’s 
troops have been defeated again and again, and the capital is 
in great danger. At such a crisis as this, there must be no 
delay ; it is our earnest hope that a sufficient force will speedily 
be collected, so that we may be rid of this poisonous fever-cloud. 
For bravery and good service, there will be great rewards. A 
most important Decree.” 

' The same euphemism was employed to describe the Court’s flight in 
August 190a 



At the Court’s halting place at Pa-Ko shih, close to the 
Great Wall, a Memorial came in from Prince Seng Ko 
Lin Ch’in, stating that small scouting parties of the bar- 
barian troops had been seen in the neighbourhood of 
Peking, but that as yet there had been no general bombard- 
ment. A Rescript was issued as follows : — 

“Inasmuch as it would appear that the pertinacity of these 
barbarians will only increase with opposition, it seems desirable 
to come to terms with them as soon as possible. With 
reference to the French barbarian Gros’s petition to be per- 
mitted to discuss matters with Prince Kung in person, at 
Peking, we command the Prince to receive him. But should 
the bandits attempt to approach the city in force, Prince Seng 
should take them in the rear and cut off their retreat. If by 
any chance, however, Peking should be already taken, let the 
Mongol regiments be sent up to the Great Wall for the 
protection of our person.” 

After a leisurely journey, the Court reached Jehol on the 
i8th. On the 20th, the opinion of the advisers of the 
Emperor seemed to be in favour of continuing the war at 
all costs. A Decree was issued, referring to the fact that 
the foreign troops had dared to encamp near the Summer 
Palace, and forbidding Prince Kung to spare the lives of 
any captured barbarians upon any pretext whatsoever. To 
this Prince Kung replied stating that the prisoners had 
already been released and that the Anting gate had been 
surrendered to the foreigners. Prince Kung, in fact, was 
statesman enough to realise that the only chance for China 
lay in submission ; he therefore ignored the Imperial 
Decrees. Before long the Emperor was persuaded to allow 
negotiations to be resumed, and on the 15th. of the 9th 
Moon he confirmed the Treaty, which had been signed in 
Peking, in the following Edict : — 

“Prince Kung, duly appointed by us to be Plenipotentiary, 
concluded, on the nth and 12th days of this Moon, Treaties 
of Peace with the British and the French. Hereafter amity 
is to exist between our nations in perpetuity, and the various 
conditions of the Treaty are to be strictly observed by all.” 



It was originally intended that the Emperor Hsien-Feng 
should return from Jehol to Peking in the spring of i86i, 
and a Decree was issued to that effect. In January, how- 
ever, his illness had become so serious that travelling was 
out of the question, and this Decree was rescinded. 

At Jehol, removed from the direct influence of his 
brothers, and enfeebled by sickness, the Emperor had 
gradually fallen under the domination of the Prince Yi (Tsai 
Yiian), with whom were associated, as Grand Councillors, 
the Prince Tuan Hua and the Imperial Clansman Su Shun. 
These three, recognising that the Emperor’s end was near 
and that a Regency would be necessary, determined on se- 
curing the power for themselves. Prince Yi was nominally 
the leader of this conspiracy, but its instigator and leading 
spirit was Su Shun. Tuan Hua, whose family title was 
Prince Cheng, was the head of one of the eight princely 
Manchu families, descended in the direct line from Nur- 
hachu’s brother. Su Shun was foster-brqther to this Prince. 
In his youth he was a conspicuous figure in the capital, 
famous for his Mohawk tendencies, a wild blade, addicted 
to hawking and riotous living. He had originally been 
recommended to the notice of the Emperor by the two 
Princes and soon won his way into the dissolute monarch’s 
confidence and goodwill. From a junior post in the Board 
of Revenue, he rose rapidly, becoming eventually an 
Assistant Grand Secretary, in which capacity he attained 
an unenviable reputation for avarice and cruelty. He 
had made himself hated and feared by persuading the 
Emperor to order the decapitation of his chief, the Grand 
Secretary Po Sui,^ on the pretext that he had shown 

^ Pii An, uncle of Na Pung, head of the Foreign Office till 1911,. was 
executed at the same time for assisting Po Sui in this matter. 



favouritism’ as Chief Examiner for the Metropolitan 
Degree, — the real reason being that he had offended the 
two Princes by his uncompromising honesty and blunt 
speech. It was at this period that he first came into con- 
flict with the young Yehonala, who, dreading the man’s 
growing influence with the Emperor, endeavoured to 
counteract it, and at the same time to save the life of the 
Grand Secretary; she failed in the attempt, and Su Shun’s 
position became the stronger for her failure. All those who 
opposed him were speedily banished or degraded. The 
Court was terrified, especially when it was realised that 
Yehonala was out of favour, and Su Shun took care to 
give them real and frequent cause for alarm. At his 
instance, all the Secretaries of the Board of Revenue were 
cashiered on a charge of making illicit profits by cornering 
the cash market. The charge was possibly well-founded, 
since such proceedings are part of a Metropolitan official’s 
recognised means of subsistence, but coming from the 
notoriously corrupt Su Shun, it was purely vindictive, as 
was shown by his subsequent action ; for upon this charge 
he obtained the arrest of over a hundred notables and rich 
merchants whom he kept in custody of no gentle kind until 
they had ransomed themselves with enormous sums. 
Thus was founded the great fortune which enabled him to 
conspire with the Princes Yi and Cheng ^ for the supreme 
power, and which led him eventually to his ruin. To this 
day, many of his millions lie in the Palace vaults, to which 
they were carried after his impeachment and death — 
millions carefully hoarded by Tzu Hsi and buried during 
the Court’s flight and exile in 1900. 

It was chiefly because of the advice of Su Shun that the 
Emperor fled his capital at the approach of the Allies, in 
spite of the urgent appeals of Yehonala and the Grand 
Council. By his advice also most of the high officials and 
Metropolitan Ministers were prevented from accompanying 
the Court, by which means the conspirators w^re able to 
exercise steadily increasing influence over the Emperor, and 

1 “ Yi ” and “ Cheng” are honorific names, meaning respectively “ har- 
monious” and “sedate,” 


to prevent other advice reaching him. It was only the 
supreme courage and intelligent grasp of the situation 
shown by Yehonala, that frustrated the conspiracy at its 
most critical moment. Immediately after the death of the 
Emperor, and while the plotters were still undecided as to 
their final plans, she sent an urgent message secretly to 
Prince Kung which brought him with all speed to Jehol, 
where, by the help of Jung Lu and other loyal servants, she 
put into execution the bold plan which defeated the con- 
spiracy and placed her at the head of China’s government. 
On the day when, the game hopelessly lost, the usurping 
Regents found themselves in Yehonala’s hands and heard 
her order their summary trial by the Court of the Imperial 
Clan, Su Shun turned to his colleagues and bitterly re- 
proached them. “ Had you but taken my advice and slain 
this woman,” he said, “we should not have been in this 
plight to-day.” 

To return, however, to the beginning of the conspiracy. 
At the outset, the object of Prince Yi was to alienate the 
Emperor from the influence of his favourite concubine, 
Yehonala. With this object they informed him of the 
intrigue which, by common report, she was carrying on 
with the young Officer of the Guards, Jung Lu, then a 
handsome athletic man of about twenty-five. The Empress 
Consort they regarded as a negligible factor, whose good- 
natured and colourless personality took little interest in 
the politics of the day ; but if their plot was to succeed, 
Yehonala must either be dismissed from the Court for 
good and all, or, at the very least, she must be temporarily 
relegated to the “Cold Palace,” as is called the place where 
insubordinate or disgraced concubines are isolated. They 
knew that, however successful their plans at Jehol, there 
must always be danger in the event of the Emperor return- 
ing to Peking, where access to his person is not possible 
at all times for officials (even those nearest to the Throne), 
whereas Yehonala would be in a position, with the help 
of her eunuchs, to "recover his favour and her power. 
Emphasising, therefore, the alleged misconduct of the 
young concubine, they quoted the precedent of a certain 


Empress Consort of Ch*ien-Lung who, for less grievous 
disrespect (shown to the Emperor’s motSheri), was im- 
prisoned for life. Thus, by inventions and suggestions, 
they so worked on the sick man’s mind that he finally 
consented to have Yehonala’s infant son, the Heir 
Apparent, removed from her care, and authorised the 
child’s being handed over to the wife of Prince Yi; who 
was summoned to the hunting-lodge Palace for that pur- 
pose. At the same time, the conspirators thought it well to 
denounce Prince Kung to the Emperor, his brother, accusing 
him of treachery, of conniving with the foreigners against 
the Throne, and of abusing his powers as Plenipotentiary. 
Prince Yi had been for years Prince Kung’s sworn enemy. 

The further intentions of the conspirators, instigated by 
Su Shun, were to massacre all Europeans in the capital 
and to put to death, or at least imprison for life, the 
Emperor’s brothers. Accordingly they drafted in advance 
the Decrees necessary to justify and explain these measures, 
intending to publish them immediately after the Emperor’s 
death, which was now imminent. But here an unforeseen 
obstacle presented itself, the first of many created for them 
by the far-seeing intelligence of Yehonala; for they found 
that she had somehow managed to possess herself of the 
special seal, which inviolable custom requires to be affixed 
to the first Edict of a new reign, in proof of validity of 
succession, — a seal, in the personal custody of the Emperor, 
which bears the characters meaning lawfully transmitted 
authority.” Without this seal, any Decrees which the 
usurpers might issue would lack something of legal finality 
and, according to Chinese ideas, their subsequent cancella- 
tion would be justifiable. But Prince Yi did hot feel 
himself strong enough to risk a crisis by accusing her or 
taking overt steps to gain possession of it. 

Angry with his favourite concubine by reason of the 
reports of her intimacy with Jung Lu, and his sickness ever 
increasing, the Emperor lingered on in Jehol all. the summer 
of that year, his duty in the ancestral sacrifices at Peking 
being taken by Prince Kung. On the 4th of the 6th Moon, 
the day before his thirtieth bjrthday, he issued the follow- 


ing Decree in reply to a Memorial by the Court of Astro- 
nomers, which had announced an auspicious conjunction 
of the stars for the occasion : — 

“Last month the Astronomers announced the appearance 
of a comet in the north-west, which intimation we received as a 
solemn warning of the impending wrath of Heaven. Now they 
memorialise saying that the stars are in favourable conjunction, 
which is doubtless a true statement, in no way inspired by their 
desire to please us. But since we came to the Throne, we have 
steadily refused to pay any attention to auspicious omens, and 
this with good reason, in view of the ever-increasing rebellions 
in the south and the generally pitiable condition of our people. 
May the present auspicious conjunction of the stars portend the 
dawning of a happier day, and may heaven permit a speedy end 
to the rebellion. In token of our sincerity, we desire that the 
Astronomical Court shall refrain from reporting to the Chroni- 
cler’s Office the present favourable omen for inclusion in the 
annals of our reign, so that there may be ascribed to us the merit 
of a devout and sober mind.” 

On the following morning the Emperor received the 
congratulations of his Court in a pavilion of the Palace 
grounds, but Yehonala was excluded from this ceremony* 
This was His Majesty’s last appearance in public; from 
this date his illness became rapidly worse. 

On the 7th of the 7lh Moon, Yehonala contrived to 
despatch a secret courier to Prince Kung at Peking, 
informing him of the critical condition of his brother and 
urging him to send with all haste a detachment of the 
Banner Corps to which the Yehonala clan belonged. 
Events now moved swiftly. On the i6th, the Grand Coun- 
cillors and Ministers of the Presence, all adherents of 
Tsai Yiian’s faction, entered the Emperor’s bedroom and, 
after excluding the Empress Consort and the concubines, 
persuaded the Emperor to sign Decrees appointing Tsai 
Yiian, Tuan Hua and Su Shun to be Co-Regents upon his 
decease, with full powers. Yehonala was to be expressly 
forbidden from exercising any form of control over the 
Heir Apparent. As the necessary seal of State had been 
taken by Yehonala and could not be found, these proceed- 
ings were irregular. At dawn on the following day the 
Emperor died, and forthwith appeared the usual valedictory 


Decree, prepared in advance by the conspirators, whereby 
Tsai Yiian was appointed to be Chief Regent, Prince Kung 
and the Empress Consort being entirely ignored. 

In the name of the new Emperor, then a child of five, a 
Decree was issued, announcing his succession, but it was 
observed to violate all constitutional precedent in that it 
omitted the proper laudatory references to the Imperial 
Consort. On the following day, however, the Regents, 
fearing to precipitate matters, rectified the omission in an 
Edict which conferred the rank of Empress Dowager both 
on the Empress Consort and on Yehonala. The chroniclers 
aver that the reason for this step lay in the Regents* 
recognition of Yehonala’s undoubted popularity with the 
troops (all Manchus) at Jehol, an argument that weighed 
more heavily with them than her rights as mother of the 
Heir Apparent. They hoped to rid themselves of this 
condition of affairs after the Court’s return to Peking, but 
dared not risk internal dissensions by having her removed 
until their positions had been made secure at the capital. 
That they intended to remove her was subsequently proved ; 
it was evident that their position would never be secure so 
long as her ambitious and magnetic personality remained a 
factor of the situation : but it was necessary, in the first 
instance, to ascertain the effect of the Regency at Peking 
and in the provinces. 

Tsai Yiian ’s next move was to publish Decrees, in the 
names of the Joint Regents, by virtue of which they 
assumed charge of the Heir Apparent and by which the 
title of “ Chien Kuo ” (practically equivalent to Dictator) 
was conferred on the Chief Regent, a title heretofore 
reserved exclusively for brothers or uncles of the Emperor. 

When the news reached Peking, a flood of Memorials 
burst from the Censorate and high officials. The child 
Emperor was implored to confer the Regency upon the 
two Empresses, or, as the Chinese text has it, to “ad- 
minister the Government with suspended curtain.” ^ -Prince 

^ The expression has reference to the fact that the Empresses Regent 
are supposed to be concealed from the sight of Ministers at audience by 
a curtain suspended in front of the Throne. 


K^iag and the Emperor^s other brothers were kt this time 
ill secret correspondence with Yehonala, whom they, like 
the Censorate, had already recognised as the master-mind 
of the Forbidden City. They urged her to do all in her 
power to expedite the departure of the funeral cortege for 
the capital. To secure this end, it was necessary to 
proceed with the greatest caution and diplomacy, for 
several of the late Emperor’s wives had been won over to 
the side of the usurpers, who could also count on a certain 
number of the Manchu bodyguard, their own clansmen. 
The influence of Su Shun’s great fortune was also no 
inconsiderable factor in the situation. The man was 
personally unpopular with the people of Peking, because 
of his abuse of power and too frequent connection with 
speculations in bank-note issues and cash, which cost the 
citizens dear, but his vaults were known to be fiilf to over- 
flowing, and there is no city in the world where ttioney 
buys more political supporters than in Peking. Su Shun’s 
career has had its counterpart, in everything except its 
sanguinary denouement, in the capital to-day. 

At the moment the position of the Emperor’s family was 
prejudiced, and the aims of the conspirators assisted, by the 
political situation. With the capital occupied by foreign 
iroops, and many of the provinces in the throes of a great 
rebellion, the people might be expected to welcome a 
change of rulers, and the ripe experience of the usurping 
Regents in all matters of State was undenic^le. But the 
virile and untiring energies of Yehonala, aBly supported 
by Jung Lu and other faithful followers, soon put a new 
complexion on affairs, and the situation was further modi- 
fied in her favour by the success of her nominee, the 
Commahder-in-Chief, Tseng Kuo-fan, in capturing the city 
of An-ch*ing (in Anhui) from the rebels, a victory that 
was regarded as of good augury to her cause. Thereafter 
her courage and diplomacy enabled her to play off one 
opponent against another, gaining time and friends until 
the jponspirators’ chance was gone.. Her own aims and 
ambitions, which had been voiced by her friends in the 
Censorate^ were, however, to some extent impeded by the 



fact that a House-law of the Dynasty forbids the adminis- 
tration of the Government by an Empress Dowager, while 
there were quite recent precedents for a Regency by a 
Boards in the cases of the Emperors Shun-Chih and K’ang- 
Hsi* In neither of these instances had the Empress Tai* 
Tsung had any voice in the Government. The precedent 
for Boards of official Regents had, however, come to be 
recognised as inauspicious, because the several Regents 
of K’ang-Hsi’s minority had either been banished or com- 
pelled to commit suicide. It is probable, too, that Prince 
Kung, in instigating and supporting the claims of the 
Empresses, failed to appreciate Yehonala’s strength of 
character, and believed that a woman’s Regency would 
leave the supreme power in his own hands. 

A Manchu, who accompanied the flight to Jehol, describ- 
ing his experiences, lays stress upon Yehonala’s unfailing 
courage and personal charm of manner, to which was due 
her popularity with the Imperial Guards and her eventual 
triumph. At the most critical period of the conspiracy she 
was careful to avoid precipitating a conflict or arousing the 
suspicions of the usurpers by openly conferring with Jung 
Lu, and she employed as her confidential intermediary the 
eunuch An Te-hai (of whom more will be heard later). 
By means of this man daily reports were safely despatched 
to Prince Kung at Peking,and, in the meanwhile, Yehonala 
affected an attitude of calm indifference, treating Prince Yi 
with a studied deference which lulled his suspicions. 

On the nth of the 8th Moon, the Board of Regents, 
after meeting to discuss the situation, issued a Decree con- 
demning in strong terms a proposal put forward in a 
Memorial by the Censor, Tung Yiian-ch’un, that the two 
Empresses should be appointed Co-Regents, and referring 
to the death-bed Decree of the late Emperor as their own 
warrant of authority. At the same time they announced, 
in the name of the young Emperor, that the funeral cortege 
would start on its journey to the capital on the s^c<md day 
of the next Moon. This was the step for which Yehonala 
had been working and waiting. As Ministers of the 
Presence, the Regents were perforce obliged to accompany 


the coffin throughout the entire journey (some 150 miles) 
to the capital, and the great weight of the catafalque, 
borne by one hundred and twenty men, would necessarily 
render the rate of progress very slow through the stony 
defiles of the hills. Resting places would have to be 
provided at stages of about fifteen miles along the route 
to shelter the Imperial remains and the attendant officials 
by night, so that the Regents might count on a journey 
of ten days at least, and longer in the event of bad weather. 
To the Empresses, the slow progress of the cortege was 
a matter of vital advantage, inasmuch as they were not to 
take part in the procession, and, travelling ahead of it, 
could reach the capital in five days with swift chair-bearers. 
Dynastic custom and Court etiquette prescribe that upon 
the departure of the funeral procession, the new Emperor 
and the consorts of the deceased sovereign should offer 
prayers and libations, and should then press on so as to 
be ready to perform similar acts of reverence on meeting 
the cortege at its destination. Yehonala thus found her- 
self in a position of great strategic advantage, being 
enabled to reach the capital well in advance of her enemies, 
and she speedily laid her plans with Prince Kung to give 
them a warm reception. 

Tsai Yiian and his colleagues were well aware that they 
were placed at grave disadvantage in having to remain 
behind the young Empress, with every prospect of serious 
trouble ahead; they, therefore, decided to have Yehonala 
and the Empress Consort assassinated on the road, and to 
that end gave orders that they should be escorted by the 
Chief Regent’s personal bodyguard. Had it not been for 
Jung Lu, who got wind of the plot, the Dowagers would 
assuredly never have reached the capital alive. Acting 
with the promptitude which Yehonala inspired, he deserted 
the funeral cortege by night with a considerable following 
of his own men, and hastened on to the protection of the 
Empresses, overtaking them before they reached Ku-pei 
K’ou, at the end of the pass from the plains into Mongolia, 
which was the spot where the assassination was to have 
taken place. 



Heavy rains had fallen just after the departure of the 
procession from Jehol. The roads became impassable, and 
the Empresses were compelled to seek shelter in the Long 
Mountain gorge, where no sort of accommodation had 
been provided. The cortege was then ten miles in their 
rear. Yehonala, mindful ever of the proprieties, sent 
back several men of her escort with a dutiful enquiry, in 
the name of her colleague and herself, as to the safety of 
the Imperial coffin. The reply, in the form of an Edict by 
Prince Yi and his Co-Regents, reported that the catafalque 
had reached the first resting place in safety; whereupon 
Yehonala, asserting as of right the prerogatives of supreme 
authority, donated to the bearers a thousand taels from her 
Privy Purse in recognition of their arduous services. 
Prince Yi, knowing full well that his own danger was 
increasing every hour, and would continue so long as the 
Empresses remained free to work against him, nevertheless 
played bravely the part prescribed for him, conforming in 
the grand manner to the traditions of his position. He 
forwarded a Memorial to the Empresses, humbly thanking 
them for their solicitude for the Emperor’s remains. 
Yehonala, in reply, praised him for his faithful devotion 
to duty. Thus, on the road to Death, they played at 
Etiquette. Both these documents are filed in the Dynastic 
records and afford remarkable evidence of the supreme 
importance which Chinese and Manchus alike attach to 
forms and the written word even at the most critical 
moments. Similar instances could be cited at the height 
of the Boxer chaos. 

The rains having ceased, the Empresses were able to 
proceed on their journey, and having come safely' through 
the hill passes under Jung Lu’s protection, they were free 
from further danger of ambush. They reached Peking on 
the 29th of the 9th Moon, three full days’ journey ahead of 
the procession. Immediately upon their arrival a' secret 
Council was held, at which were present the Empe.ror’s 
brotliers, together with the Ministers and Imperial clans- 
men known to be loyal to their cause. Long and anxiously 
did they confer. Although the Empress Mother was in 


possession of the seal of legitimate succession, there was 
no known precedent for so drastic a step as the summary, 
and possibly violent, arrest of high officers of State con- 
voying the Imperial coffin. Such a course, it was felt, 
would be regarded as disrespectful to the late Emperor 
and an inauspicious opening to the new reign. The con- 
sensus of opinion was, therefore, on the side of slow and 
cautious measures, and it was decided thus to proceed, 
conforming to all the outward observances of dynastic 
tradition. The coffin once arrived, the first step would 
be to deprive the Regents of their usurped authority ; the 
rest would follow. 

The cortege was due to arrive at the north-west gate 
of the city on the morning of the 2nd of the loth Moon, 
and on the previous evening Prince Kung posted a large 
force of troops at this point to prevent any attempt at a 
coup de main by Tsai Yiian’s followers. The boy 
Emperor, accompanied by the Empresses Dowager, came 
out to meet the coffin as it approached the city, and with 
him were the late Emperor^s brothers and a great following 
of officials. As the catafalque passed through the gate, 
the Imperial party knelt and performed the prescribed 
acts of reverence. Before the coffin came the Imperial 
insignia, and behind it a large body of Manchu cavalry. 
Prince Yi and his Co-Regents, having performed their 
duty in bringing the coffin safely to the city, next pro- 
ceeded, as required by custom, to make formal report in 
person to the young Emperor, upon fulfilment of their 
charge. For this purpose they were received in a large 
marquee erected just inside the city gate. Both Empresses 
were present, together with the late Emperor’s brothers 
and the Grand Secretaries Kuei Liang and Chou 

Yehonala, calmly assuming, as was her wont, the prin- 
cipal role and all attributes of authority, opened the pro- 
ceedings by informing Prince Yi that the Empress Consort 
and she herself were grateful to him and to his colleagues 
for the services which they had rendered as Regents and 
Grand Councillors, of which duties they were now relieved. 



Prince Yi, putting a bold face on it, replied that he himself 
was Chief Regent, legally appointed, that the Empresses 
had no power to divest him of authority properly con- 
ferred by the late Emperor, and that, during the minority 
of the new Emperor, neither she herself nor any other 
person was entitled to attend audience without his express 

“We shall see about that,” said Yehonala, and forthwith 
gave orders to the attendant guards to place the three 
Regents under arrest. The Imperial party then hastened 
to the Palace to be ready to meet the coffin upon its arrival 
at the main entrance to the Forbidden City, for, however 
acute the crisis, the dead take precedence of the living 
in China. The deposed Regents quietly followed. All 
hope of escape or resistance was out of the question, for 
the streets were lined with troops faithful to Yehonala’s 
cause. Her triumph was complete, essentially a triumph 
of mind over matter. It was her first taste of the pomp 
and circumstance of supreme power. 

Forthwith the Empresses proceeded to regularise their 
position by issuing a Decree, under the Great Seal of 
“Lawfully transmitted authority,” in which the conspira- 
tors and those found on the Grand Council were cashiered 
and ordered to await the determination of their punish- 
ment. Thereafter, in their capacity as Joint Regents, the 
Empresses duly performed the proper obeisances to the 
Imperial coffin at the eastern gate of the Palace, escorting 
it thence to its temporary resting place in the central 
Throne Hall. 

In the security of Peking, and confident of the devotion 
of the troops, Yehonala now proceeded to act more boldly. 
She issued a second Decree in her own name and that of the 
Empress Consort, ordering that the three principal con- 
spirators be handed over to the Imperial Clansmen’s Court 
for the determination of a severe penalty. Pending, the 
investigation, which was to be carried out under, the 
Presidency of Prince Kung, they were to be stripped of 
all their titles and rank. The vindictive autocrat of the 
years to come speaks for the first time in this Edict. 


“Their audacity in questioning our right to give audience to 
Prince Rung this morning shows a degree of wickedness in- 
conoeivablc, and convicts them of the darkest designs. The 
punishment so far meted out to them is totally inadequate to 
the depth of their guilt.” 

Against Su Shun, in particular, the Empress’s wrath 
burned fiercely. His wife had insulted her in the days 
of her disgrace at Jehol, and Yehonala had ever a good 
memory for insults. Next morning she issued the follow- 
ing Decree for his especial benefit: — 

Because of Su Shunts high treason, his wanton unsurpation 
of authority, his acceptance of bribes and generally unspeakable 
wickedness, we commanded that he be degraded and arrested 
by the Imperial Clansmen’s Court. But on receipt of the Decree, 
Su Shun dared to make use of blasphemous language in regard 
to ourselves, forgetful of the inviolable relation between Sover- 
eign and subject. Our hair stands on end with horror at such 
abominable treason. Moreover he has dared to allow his wife 
and family to accompany him, when on duty accompanying the 
Imperial coffin from Jehol, which is a most disgraceful violation 
of all precedent.^ The whole of his property, both at Peking 
and at Jehol, is therefore confiscated, and no mercy shall be 
shown him.” 

As Su Shun’s property was worth several millions 
sterling at the low^est estimate, the Empress Dowager thus 
acquired at one stroke the sinews of war and a substantial 
nucleus for that treasure hoard which henceforward was to 
be one of the main objects of her ambition, and a chief 
source of her power. During the present Dynasty there 
is a record of one official wealthier than Su Shun, namely 
Ho Shen, a Grand Secretary under Ch’ien Lung, whose 
property was similarly confiscated by that Emperor’s 

But Yehonala’s lust of vengeance was not yet appeased. 
Her next Decree, issued on the following day, gives 
evidence of that acquisitive faculty, that tendency to 
accumulate property and to safeguard it with housewifely 
thrift, which distinguished her to the end: — 

^ To allow women privily to accompany the Imperial cortege is a crime 
punishable by law with the penalty of the lingering death. 



”Su Shun ‘.was erecting for himself a Palace at Jehol, which 
is not yet completed. Doubtless he has vast stores of treasure 
there. Doubtless also he has buried large sums of gold and 
silver somewhere in the vicinity of his Jehol residence, in 
anticipation of the possible discovery of his crimes. Let all 
his property in Jehol be carefully inventoried, when a Decree 
will be issued as to its disposal. Let all his property be carefully 
searched for treasure, to be handed over when found. Any 
attempt at concealment by the Jehol authorities will entail upon 
them the same punishment as Aat which is to be inflicted upon 
Su Shun.” 

On the 6th of the loth Moon, Prince Kung and the 
Imperial Commission sent in their report on the quite per- 
functory enquiry into the charges against Tsai Yiian and 
the other conspirators. In the Decree which followed upon 
this Report, the offenders were finally disposed of, Tsai 
Yiian and Tuan Hua being graciously permitted to 
commit suicide, and Su Shun being sentenced to 



Although the collapse of the Tsai Yiian conspiracy, 
and the stern justice administered to its leaders, rendered 
Yehonala’s position secure and made her de facto ruler of 
the Empire (for her colleague was, politically speaking, 
a negligible quantity, or nearly so), she was extremely 
careful, during the first years of the Regency, to avoid all 
conspicuous assumption of power and to keep herself and 
her ambitions in the background, while she omitted no 
opportunity of improving her knowledge of the art of 
government and of gaining the support of China’s leading 
officials. For this reason all the Decrees of this period 
are issued in the name of the Emperor, and Tzu Hsi’s 
assumption of authority was even less conspicuous than 
during her period of retirement at the Summer Palace after 
the conclusion of Kuang-Hsii’s minority. The first Re- 
gency (1861-1873) may be described as Tzu Hsi’s tentative 
period of rule, in which she tasted the sweets, while avoid- 
ing the appearance, of power. During the second Regency 
(1875-1889), while her name appeared only occasionally as 
the author of Imperial Decrees, she was careful to keep in 
her hands all official appointments, the granting of rewards 
and punishments and other matters of internal politics cal- 
culated to increase her personal popularity and prestige 
with the mandarinate. The “ curtain was not suspended ” 
during Kuang-Hsii’s minority, as he was the nominee of 
the Empresses, whereas the Emperor T’ung-Chih held his 
mandate direct from the late Emperor, his father. It was 
not until the final Regency (189^1908), which was not a 
Regency at all in the strict sense of the word but an 
usurpation of the Imperial prerogative during the life- 
time of the sovereign, that, assured of the strength of her 




position, she gave full rein to her love of power and, with 
something of the contempt which springs from long 
familiarity, took unto herself all the outward and visible 
signs of Imperial authority, holding audience daily in the 
Great Hall of the Palace, seated oh the Dragon Throne, 
with the puppet Emperor relegated to a position of in- 
feriority, recognised and acclaimed as the Old Buddha, the 
sole and undisputed ruler of the Empire. 

At the outset of her career, she appears to have realised 
that the idea of female rulers had never been popular with 
the Chinese people; that even the Empress Wu of the 
eighth century, the greatest woman in Chinese history, 
was regarded as a usurper. She was aware that the 
Empress Lii (whose character, as described by historians, 
was not unlike her own), to whom was due the con- 
solidation of power that marked the rise of the Han Dy- 
nasty, enjoys but scant respect from posterity. On the 
other hand, she knew — for the study of history was her 
pastime — that the Empresses Dowagers of the past had 
often wielded supreme power in the State, principles and 
precedents notwithstanding, and their example she de- 
termined to follow. Upon the taking off of the three chief 
conspirators, the Censors and Ministers urged her to deal 
in similar drastic fashion with their aiders and abettors, 
and Prince Kung was anxious, if not for revenge, at least 
for precautions being taken against those who had had the 
ear of the late Emperor during the last months of his reign. 
But Yehonala showed statesmanlike forbearance : early 
in life she realised that a few victims are better than many, 
and that lives spared often mean whole families of friends. 
After cashiering Prince Yi’s remaining colleagues of the 
Grand Council, she dealt leniently with other offenders. 
When, for instance, Ch’en Tu-en, President of the Board 
of Civil appointments, was impeached on the ground that 
it was he who had first persuaded the Emperor to flee to 
Jehol against her advice, and that, after the Emperor’s, 
death, he alone of all the high officials at the -capital had 
been summoned to Jehol by the usurping Regents, she 
contented herself with removing him from office, though 



his guilt was clearly proved. Another official^- a Minister 
of the Household, who had endeavoured to further the aims 
of the conspirators, by dissuading Hsien Feng from 
returning to Peking in the spring of i86i, on the plea 
that an insurrection was impending, was also cashiered. 
But there was nothing in the nature of a general pro- 
scription, in spite of the pecuniary and other advantages 
which usually commend retaliation to the party in power 
at Peking. In an able Decree, Tzu Hsi let it be under- 
stood that she wished to punish a few only, an.d those 
chiefly pour encourager les autres. It was always a 
characteristic of hers that, when her ends were safely 
secured, she adopted a policy of watchful leniency : 
moderata durant. In this instance she was fully aware of 
the fact that Tsai Yiian and his colleagues would never 
have had the opportunities, nor the courage, to conspire 
for the Regency, had they not been assured of the sym- 
pathy and support of many of the higher pfflcials, but she 
preferred to let the iron hand rest in its velvet glove unless 
<^nly thwarted. She would have no proscriptions, no 
wreaking of private grudges and revenges. It was this 
characteristic of hers that, as will be seen in another place, 
obtained for her, amongst the people of Peking in par- 
ticular, a reputation for almost quixotic gentleness, a 
reputation which we find expressed in frequent references 
to the “Benign Countenance,” or “Benevolent Mother,” 
and which undoubtly represented certain genuine impulses 
in her complex nature. So, having crushed the conspiracy, 
she contented herself with exhorting all concerned to 
“ attend henceforth strictly to their duty, avoiding those 
sycophantic and evil tendencies which had brought Ch’en 
Tu-en and Huang Tsung-han to their disgrace.” In 
another Decree she emphasised the principle that sins of 
omission are not much less grave than overt acts, roundly 
censuring the Princes and Ministers of her Government 
for having failed to denounce the conspirators at once, 
and charging them with cowardice. It was fear and 
nothing else, she ^id, that had prevented them from re- 
vealing the truth; and flien, with one of those naive 


touches wliich make Chinese Edicts a perpetual feast, she 
added that, should there be any further plots of usurpers, 
she would expect to be informed of their proceedings 
without delay. Above all, she bade the Imperial Clan 
take warning by the fate of the three conspirators, and 
intimated that any further attempts of this kind would be 
far more severely dealt with. 

One of the first steps of the Regency was to determine 
the title of the new reign. The usurping Princes had 
selected the characters “Ch’i-Hsiang,” meaning well- 
omened happiness,” but to Yehonala’s scholarly taste and 
fine sense of fitness, the title seemed ill-chosen and re- 
dundant, and as she wished to obliterate all memory of the 
usurpers’ regime, she chose in its place the characters 
“T’ung^Chih,” meaning “Joint Rule,” in allusion to the 
double regency, in order to emphasise her own share in 
tj^ government. As far as all good augury for the 
Emperor himself was concerned, one title was, as events 
proved, no more likely to be effective than the other. 

On the same day as the proclamation of the new reign 
was made by Edict, the Empresses Dowager issued a 
Decree explaining, and ostensibly deprecating, the high 
honour thrust upon them. 

“ Our assumption of the Regency was utterly contrary to our 
wishes, but we have complied with the urgent request of our 
Princes and Ministers, because we realise that it is essential 
that there should be a higher authority to whom they may refer. 
So soon as ever the Emperor shall have completed his education, 
we shall take no further part in the Government, which will then 
naturally revert to the system prescribed by all dynastic tradition. 
Our sincere reluctance in assuming the direction of affairs must 
be manifest to all. Our officials are expected loyally to assist 
us in the arduous task which we have undertaken.” 

Following upon this, a Decree was issued in the name of 
the Emperor, which represented the boy as thanking their 
Majesties the Regents and promising that, so sooif as he 
came of age, he would endeavour, by dutiful niinistrations, 
to prove his gratitude. 

For the procedure of Government it was then arranged 


that the Empresses should daily hold joint audiences in the 
side Hall of the main Palace. At these, and at all except 
the great Court ceremonies, the Emperor’s great-uncle and 
four brothers were excused from performing the ‘‘ kotow,” 
the Emperor’s respect for the senior generation being thus 
indirectly exhibited. 

Upon their acceptance of the Regency, honorific titles 
were conferred upon both Empresses. Each character in 
these titles represents a grant from the public funds of 
100,000 taels per annum (say, at that time, ;^20,ooo). Thus 
the Empress Consort became known by the title of Tzu An 
(Motherly and Restful) while Yehonala became Tzu Hsi 
(Motherly and Auspicious), one being the Empress of the 
Eastern, and the other of the Western Palace. At various 
subsequent periods, further honorific characters, in pairs, 
were added unto them, so that, on her seventieth birthday, 
Tzu Hsi was the proud possessor of sixteen. On that 
occasion she modestly and virtuously refused the four 
additional characters with which the Emperor Kuang-Hsu 
(not unprompted) desired to honour her. Tzu An lived to 
receive ten in all ; both ladies received two on their thirtieth 
birthdays, two on the Emperor T’ung-Chih’s accession, 
two just before his death in recognition of their “ministra- 
tions ” during his attack of small-pox, and two on their 
fortieth birthdays. Tzu Hsi received two more on her 
fiftieth birthday, two on Kuang-Hsii’s marriage, and two 
on her sixtieth birthday. Tzu Hsi’s complete official 
designation at the end of her life was not easy to remember. 
It ran, “Tzu-Hsi-Tuan-yu-K’ang-yi-Chao-yii-Chuang- 
ch’eng-Shou-kung-Ch’in-hsien-Ch’ung-hsi- Huang Tai- 
hou,” which, being translated, means “The Empress 
Dowager, motherly, auspicious, orthodox, heaven-blessed, 
prosperous, all-nourishing, brightly manifest, calm, sedate, 
perfect, long-lived, respectful, reverend, worshipfifi, illus- 
trious and exalted.” 

At the beginning of the Regency it suited Yehonala to 
conciliate and humour Prince Kung. In conjunction with 
her colleague, she therefore bestowed upon him the titles 
of “I-Cheng Wang,” or Prince Adviser to the Govern- 



ment, and by special Decree she made the title of “Ch’in 
Wang,” or Prince of the Blood (which had been bestowed 
upon him by the late Emperor), hereditary in his family 
for ever.^ Prince Kung begged to be excused from accept- 
ing the former honour, whereupon ensued a solemn parade 
of refusal on the part of the Empresses, one of whom, as 
events proved, certainly wanted no adviser. Eventually, 
after much deprecation, their Majesties gave way as 
regards the hereditary title, but on the understanding that 
the offer would be renewed at a more fitting season. 
Yehonala who, in her better moments of grateful memory, 
could scarcely forget the brave part which Prince Kung 
had played for her at Jehol, made amends by adopting 
his daughter as a Princess Imperial, granting her the use 
of the Yellow palanquin. The influence of this Princess 
over Tzu Hsi, especially towards the end, was great, and 
it was strikingly displayed in 1900 on behalf of Prince 
Tuan and the Boxer leaders. 

Ignorant at the outset of many things in the procedure of 
Government routine, feeling her way through the labyrinth 
of party politics and foreign affairs, afraid of her own youth 
and inexperience, it was but natural that Tzu Hsi should 
have recourse to the ripe wisdom of the late Emperor's 
brother and be guided by his opinion. But as time went 
on, as her knowledge of affairs broadened and deepened, 
her autocratic instincts gradually asserted themselves in an 
increasing impatience of advice and restraint. As, by the 
study of history and the light of her own intelligence, she 
gained confidence in the handling of State business and 
men, the guidance which had previously been welcome 
became distasteful, and eventually assumed the character of 
interference. Despotic by nature, Tzu Hsi was not the 
woman to tolerate interference in any matter where her own 
mind was made up, and Prince Kung, on his side, was of 
a disposition little less proud and independent than her 
Own. When the young Yehonala began to evince a dis- 
position to dispense with his advice, he was therefore not 
inclined to conceal his displeasure, and relations speedily 
^ Hereditary titles in China usually descend in a diminishing scale. 


became strained. As Tzu Hsi was at no pains to hide her 
resentment, he gradually came to adopt a policy of insti- 
gating her colleague, the Empress of the East, to a more 
independent attitude, a line of action which could not fail 
to produce ill-feeling and friction in the Palace. In the 
appointment of officials, also, which is the chief object and 
privilege of power in China, he was in the habit of promot- 
ing and protecting his own nominees without reference to 
Yehonala, by direct communications to the provinces. 
Eye-witnesses of the events of the period have recorded 
their impression that his attitude towards both Empresses 
at the commencement of the Regency was somewhat over- 
bearing ; that he was inclined to presume upon the import- 
ance of his own position and services, and that on one 
occasion at audience, he even presumed to inform the 
Empresses that they owed their position to himself, a 
remark which Tzu Hsi was not likely to forget or forgive. 

At the audiences of the Grand Council, it was the custom 
for the two Empresses to sit on a raised dais, each on her 
separate Throne, immediately in front of which was sus- 
pended a yellow silk curtain ; they w^ere therefore invisible 
to the Councillors, who were received separately and in the 
order of their seniority, Prince Rung coming first in his 
capacity as “ adviser to the Government.” Beside their Majes- 
ties on the dais, contrary to dynastic house-law, stood their 
attendant eunuchs; they were in the habit of peeping through 
the folds of the curtain, keeping a careful eye upon the de- 
meanour of the officials in audience, with a view to noting 
any signs of disrespect or breach of etiquette. Strictly speak- 
ing, no official, however high his rank, might enter the 
Throne room unless summoned by the chief eunuch in at- 
tendance, but Prince Kung considered himself superior to 
such rules, and would enter unannounced. Other breaches of 
etiquette he committed which, as Her Majesty’s knowledge 
of affairs increased, were carefully noted against him; for 
instance, he would raise his voice when replying to their 
Majesties’ instructions (which were always given by Tzu 
Hsi), and on one occasion, he even ventured to ask that 
Tzu Hsi should repeat something she had just said, and 



which he pretended not to have understood. His attitude, 
in short (say the chroniclers), implied an assumption of 
equality which the proud spirit of the young Empress 
would not brook. Living outside the Palace as he did, 
having free intercourse with Chinese and foreign officials 
on all sides, he was naturally in a position to intrigue 
against her, did he so desire. Tzu Hsi, on the other hand, 
was likely to imagine and exaggerate intrigues, since nearly 
all her information came from the eunuchs and would 
therefore naturally assume alarming proportions. There 
is little doubt that she gradually came to believe in the 
possibility of Prince Kung working against her authority, 
and she therefore set herself to prove to him that his 
position and prerogatives depended entirely upon her 
good will. 

She continued watching her opportunity and patiently 
biding her time until the occasion presented itself in the 
fourth year of the Regency (April, 1865). In a moment 
of absent-mindedness or bravado, Prince Kung ventured to 
rise from his knees during an audience, thus violating a 
fundamental rule of etiquette originally instituted to guard 
the Sovereign against any sudden attack. The eunuchs 
promptly informed their Majesties, whereupon Tzu Hsi 
called loudly for help, exclaiming that the Prince was 
plotting some evil treachery against the persons of the 
Regents. The Guards rushed in, and Prince Kung was 
ordered to leave the presence at once. His departure was 
speedily followed by the issue of an Imperial Decree, 
stating that he had endeavoured to usurp the authority of 
the Throne and persistently overrated his own importance 
to the State. He was accordingly dismissed from his 
position as adviser to the Government, relieved of his duties 
on the Grand Council and other high offices in the Palace ; 
even his appointment as head of the Foreign Office, or 
Tsungli YamSn, was cancelled. “He had shown 'himself 
unworthy of their Majesties’ confidence,” said^the Edict,, 
“and had displayed gross nepotism in the appointment 
of high officials : his rebellious and usurping tendencies 
must be sternly checked.” 


A month later, however, Tzu Hsi, realising that her 
own position was not unassailable, and that her treatment 
of this powerful Prince had created much unfavourable 
comment at Court and in the provinces, saved her face and 
the situation simultaneously, by issuing a Decree in the 
name of herself and her colleague, which she described as 
a Decree of explanation. In this document she took no 
small credit to herself for strength of character and virtue 
in dealing severely with her near kinsmen in the interests 
of the State, and pointed to the fact that any undue 
encouragement of the Imperial clansmen, when inclined 
to take a line of their own, was liable, as history had 
repeatedly proved, to involve the country in destructive 
dissension. Her real object in inflicting punishment on 
the Prince for treating the Throne with disrespect was 
to save him from himself and from the imminent peril of 
his own folly. But now that several Memorials had been 
sent in by Censors and others, requesting that his errors 
be pardoned, the Throne could have no possible objection 
to showing clemency and, the position having been made 
clear, Prince Kung was restored to the position of Cham- 
berlain, and to the direction of the Foreign Office. The 
Prince, in fact, needed a lesson in politeness and, having 
got it. Her Majesty was prepared to let bygones be by- 
gones, it being clearly understood that, for the future, he 
should display increased energy and loyalty as a mark 
of his sincere gratitude to their Majesties. 

In the autumn of this year, 1865, took place the burial 
of the late Emperor, Hsien-Feng, the preparation of whose 
tomb had been proceeding for just four years. With him 
was buried his consort Sakota, who had died in 1850, a 
month before her husband’s accession to the Throne; her 
remains had been awaiting burial at a village temple, seven 
miles west of the capital, for fifteen years. As usual, the 
funeral ceremonies and preparation of the tombs involved 
vast expenditure, and there had been considerable difficulty 
in finding the necessary funds, for the southern provinces, 
which, under ordinary circumstances would have made the 
largest contributions, were still suffering severely from the 



ravages of the Taiping rebellion. The Emperor’s mauso- 
leum had cost nominally ten million taels, of which amount, 
of course, a very large proportion had been diverted for the 
benefit of the officials of the Household and others. 

The young Emperor, and the Empresses Regent pro- 
ceeded, as in duty bound, to the Eastern Tombs to take 
their part in the solemn burial ceremonies. Prince Kung 
was in attendance; to him had fallen the chief part in the 
preparation of the tomb and in the provision of the funds, 
and Her Majesty had no cause to complain of any scamp- 
ing of his duties. The body of the Emperor, in an Imperial 
coffin of catalpa wood, richly lacquered and inscribed with 
Buddhist sutras, was borne within the huge domed grave 
chamber, and there deposited in the presence of their 
Majesties upon its “jewelled bedstead,” the pedestal of 
precious metals prepared to receive it. In the place of 
the concubines and eunuchs, who in prehistoric days used 
to be buried alive with the deceased monarch, wooden and 
paper figures of life size were placed beside the coffin, 
reverently kneeling to serve their lord in the halls of Hades. 
The huge candles were lighted, prayers were recited, and 
a great wealth of valuable ornaments arranged within the 
grave chamber; gold and jade sceptres, and a necklace 
of pearls were placed in the coffin. And when all was 
duly done, the great door of the chamber was slowly 
lowered and sealed in its place. 

Next day the Empresses Dowager issued a Decree in 
which Prince Kung’s meritorious acts are graciously recog- 
nised, and their Majesties’ thanks accorded to him for the 
satisfactory fulfilment of the funeral ceremonies. . 

This Decree contains the following significant pas- 
sage : — 

“The Decree which we issued last Spring was caused, by the 
Prince’s want of attention to small details of etiquette, and if 
we were obliged to punish him severely, our motives^haye.been 
clearly explained. No doubt everyone in the Empire is well 
aware of the facts, but as posterity may possibly fail to realise 
all the circumstances, and as unjust blame might fall upon the 
memory of Prince Kung, if that Decree were allowed to remain 



inscribed amongst the Imperial Archives, thus suggesting a flaw 
in the white jade of his good name, we now command that the 
Decree in which we announced Prince Kung’s dismissal from 
office be expunged from the annals of our reign. Thus is our 
affection displayed towards a deserving servant, and his good 
name preserved untarnished to all time.” 

The Empress Dowager was essentially a woman of 
moods, and these Imperial Decrees simply reflect the fact, 
at the beginning of her autocratic rule, as they did until 
its close. Four years later Prince Kung was to incur her 
deep and permanent dislike by conspiring with her col- 
league to deprive her of her favourite, the chief eunuch 
An Te-hai. 



One of the facts upon which modern Chinese historians, 
Censors, Imperial Tutors and Guardians of the Heir 
Apparent have repeatedly laid stress, is that the Ming 
Dynasty became effeminate, then degenerate, and was 
eventually lost, because of the demoralising influence of 
the eunuch system on the Court and its officials entourage. 
Upon this text, moral exhortations in the best classical 
manner were addressed to the Throne for centuries, 
regardless of the consideration that most of the writers 
owed their positions, and hoped to owe further advance- 
ment, to the eunuchs, who had the sovereign’s ear. These 
Memorials were usually only a part of the hoary fabric of 
pious platitudes and shadowy shibboleths which loom so 
large in the stock in trade of China’s bureaucacy (in which 
matter China stands not alone), and the Empress Dowager, 
under whose rule the evil grew and assumed monstrous 
proportions, was ever wont to play her part in this elaborate 
farce, by solemnly approving the views of the bold critics 
and by professing the greatest indignation at the misdeeds 
of her eunuch myrmidons and retainers. 

There have been, of course, sincere and eloquent critics 
of this pernicious system and its attendant evils; in fact, 
scarcely a reformer worthy of the name during the past 
fifty years has failed to place the abolition of eunuchs in 
the front rank of the measures necessary to bring China 
into line with the civilised Powers. There is no doubt that 
one of the first causes of the coup d'etat in 1898 arose from 
the hatred of the Chief Eunuch, Li Lien-ying, for the 
Emperor Kuang-Hsii (who years before had ventured to 
have him beaten), and his not unnatural apprehension 
that the Emperor intended to follow up his reforms of the 

5 * 


Peking Administration by devoting his attention to the 
Palace and to the abolition of eunuchs. As to the Boxer 
rising, it has been clearly proved that this notorious and 
powerful Chamberlain used all the weight of his great 
influence with his Imperial mistress on behalf of the anti- 
foreign movement, and that, if justice had been done (that 
is to say had he not been protected by the Russian 
Legation), his should have been one of the very first names 
on the Peace Protocol “Black List.” The part which Li 
Lien-ying played in these two national crises of recent 
years is mentioned here chiefly to emphasise the fact that 
the platitudinous utterances of the orthodox express, as 
usual, a very real and widespread grievance, and that the 
falsetto notes of the Censorate were answered by a deep 
undertone of dissatisfaction and disgust throughout the 
provinces. It was for this reason that progressive and 
patriotic Chinese (e.g. men like Yuan Shih-k’ai and 
T’ang Shao-yi, who realised how greatly the persistence of 
this barbarous medievalism lowered China in the eyes of 
the world), as well as the unanimous voice of the vernacular 
Press, repeatedly urged that the Court should dispense 
with eunuchs, a measure which the Regent favoured, but 
which — such was the power wielded by these “fawning 
sycophants” — would undoubtedly have been difficult and 
possibly dangerous. As early as 1906, The Times corre- 
spondent at Peking was discussing the possibility of their 
early removal as one of the many reforms which then shone 
so brightly on the horizon. In the Chinese conservative's 
opinion, however, which still weighs heavily in China, 
there are centuries of precedents and arguments to be 
adduced in favour of a Court system which obtained con- 
tinuously since long before the beginning of the Christian 
era, which coincided with the Chinese accepted ideas of 
polygamy, and recognised the vital importance of legitimacy 
of succession in relation to the national religion of ancestor 
worship. On the other hand, it is true that in the golden 
days of the Sage Emperors at the beginnii^ of the Chou 
Dynasty, eunuchs had no place in the body politic. Later, 
during the period of that Dynasty’s decay and the era of 


the feudal States, Confucius refers with disapproval to 
their baneful influence, so that the Sage’s authority may 
be adduced against them and their proceedings. 

With the establishment of the present Dynasty at Peking 
(1644), the Manchus took over, as conquerors, all the 
existing machinery and personnel of the Chinese Court, 
eunuchs included, but they lost no time in restricting the 
latter’s activities and opportunities. At the first audience 
held by the young Emperor Shun-Chih, the high officials, 
Manchu and Chinese, united to protest against the recent 
high*handed proceedings of the Court menials, declaring 
them to be “fit only to sweep floors, and in no wise entitled 
to have access to the Monarch.” Regulations were 
promptly introduced, which remained in force (on paper) 
till the abdication in 1912, forbidding any eunuch to occupy 
any official position, or to hold any honorific rank or title 
higher than a Button of the fourth class. More important 
still, in view of the far-reaching conspiracy of the Chief 
Eunuch, Wei Chung-hsien (who committed suicide to 
escape the capital penalty), was the law then introduced, 
which forbade any eunuch to leave the capital on any 
pretext whatsoever. For the next two hundred years, 
thanks to the wise rule and excellent traditions handed 
down by the two famous Emperors K’ang-Hsi and 
Ch’ien-Lung, the Palace eunuchs were kept generally 
under very strict discipline ; but with the present century, 
when degeneration had set in strongly under the dissolute 
monarch Hsien-Feng, and even before the appearance 
of Yehonala on the scene, their evil influence had again 
become paramount in the Forbidden City. With Tzu 
Hsi’s accession to power, all the corruption, intrigues and 
barbarous proceedings, that had characterised the last 
Mings, were gradually re-established and became perma- 
nent features of her Court. 

Of the power which the eunuchs exercised throughout 
the whole of Tzii Hsi’s reign, there is no possible doubt : 
the abuses which they practised under her. protection, 
abuses flagrant and unconcealed, increased with the pass- 
ing years and her own growing indifference to criticism, 


until, after 1898, her favourite and chief body-servant, Li 
Lien-ying did not scruple to boast that he could make or 
mar the highest officials at his pleasure and defy the Son 
of Heaven bn his Throne. Of the countless legends of 
debauchery in the Palace of orgies devised for Tzu Hsi by 
the Court eunuchs and actors, there is naturally nothing 
approaching to direct evidence : the frequent denunciations 
by Censors and the scurrilous writings of Cantonese and 
other lampooners, afford at best but circumstantial proof. 
The writings of K’ang Yu-wei and his associates, in 
particular, are clearly inspired by blind and unscrupulous 
hatred, and so inaccurate in matters of common know- 
ledge and history, that one must perforce discount the 
value of their statements wherever the Empress Dowager 
or Jung Lu are concerned. But common report in China, 
as elsewhere, is usually based on some foundation of truth, 
and in Peking, where the mass of the population has 
always been conspicuously loyal to Tzu Hsi, there have 
never been two opinions as to the extravagance and general 
profligacy of her Court and of the evils of the eunuch 
regime. Nor is there room for doubt as to the deplorable 
effect exercised by these vicious underlings on weak and 
undisciplined Emperors, rulers of decadent instincts often 
encouraged in vicious practices to their speedy undoing. 
That this was the fate of Tzu Hsi’s own son, the Emperor 
T’ung-Chih, is well-known, nor is there any doubt that 
the deaths of both Hsien-Feng and Kuang-Hsii were 
hastened, if not caused, by the temptations to which they 
were exposed by their vicious environment. The inner 
history of the Celestial Empire and the Manchu Dynasty 
during the last seventy years is inextricably bound up with 
that of the Palace eunuchs and their far-reaching intrigues. 
During the half century of Tzu Hsi’s rule, the power 
behind the Throne (literally a power of darkness in high 
places) was that of her favourite Chamberlains. Of these 
the last, who survived her, Li Lien-ying, was known by 
his nickname of “Cobbler’s Wax Li” (P’i Hsiao Li) ^ 

^ So named because, before becoming a eunuch at the age of sixteen, 
be was apprenticed to a cobbler at his native place, Ho-Chien fu, in 
Chihli, from which district most of the eunuchs come. 



from one end of the Empire to the other as the chief 
‘‘squeezer” and arch villain of many a Palace tragedy. 
His influence over his Imperial mistress was indeed 
remarkable; on all occasions, except State audiences, she 
was wont to treat him with an affectionate familiarity, and 
to allow him a sans-gene, to which no courtier, nor any 
member of her own family (save perhaps Jung Lu) dared 
ever aspire. 

During the Court’s residence, and the Emperor’s illness, 
at Jehol in i86i, the young Yehonala had occasion to notice 
and to appreciate the intelligence and willing service 
rendered by one of the eunuchs in immediate attendance 
upon her; this servant, by name An Te-hai, became her 
faithful henchman throughout the crisis of the Tsai Yiian 
conspiracy, and her intermediary and confidant in her 
dealings with the young guardsman, Jung Lu. Upon her 
accession to the Co-Regency, he became her favourite 
attendant and emissary, and later her dme damnee, sharing 
in all her ambitious hopes and plans, with no small advan- 
tage to himself, while at the same time employing his 
undeniable talents to the diversion of the young widow’s 
mind by the provision of the elaborate Court pageants 
and theatrical entertainments which her soul loved. An 
Te-hai was himself an actor of no mean ability and ex- 
ceedingly handsome of his person. 

It was at this time, before the Regency was firmly estab- 
lished and while yet the reverberating echoes of the Tsai 
Yiian conspiracy lingered in Chihli, that the leading 
Censors began to send in Memorials against the self- 
evident extravagance and the rumoured profligacy of Tzu 
Hsi’s Palace. The young Yehonala, headstrong and 
already impatient of criticism and restraint, confident also 
in the strength and loyalty of her immediate following, 
never allowed these remonstrances to affect her conduct in 
the slightest degree; nevertheless, a stickler always for 
etiquette and appearances, and an adept at “face-saving” 
arts, she had no objection to expressing the heartiest 
approval of, and agreement with, her/ professional 
moralists. On more than one occasion, in those first years, 
we find her proclaiming in most suitably worded Edicts, 


pious intentions which were never intended to be taken 
seriously by anyone, and never were. The following 
Decree, issued in the third year of the Regency (1864), is 
a case in point, and particularly interesting in that it refers 
to the wholesale pilfering by eunuchs in the Palace, 

A Decree in the name of the two Empresses Regent, in 
the third year of the Emperor T’ung-Chih : — 

“The Censor Chia To memorialises, saying that it has come 
to his knowledge that certain of the eunucjis who perform 
theatricals in the Imperial Household, have had their costumes 
made of tribute silks and satins taken from the Imperial store- 
houses. He asserts that they perform daily before the Throne 
and regularly receive largesse to the amount of thousands of 
taels. He asks that these practices be forbidden and discon- 
tinued forthwith, in order that all tendency towards vicious 
courses may be checked. 

“With reference to this Memorial, it should be stated that 
last year, although the twenty-seven months of Imperial mourn- 
ing for the late monarch were drawing to their close, we issued 
a Decree forbidding all festivities, for the reason that His late 
Majesty’s remains had not yet been removed to their final place 
of sepulture ; at the same time we gave orders that the seasonal 
tribute in kind, and provincial offerings, should be forwarded, 
as usual, in order to provide eventually for the customing of the 
Palace theatricals, with reference to which matter we intended 
to issue another Decree in due course, upon the conclusion of the 
funeral ceremonies. We seized opportunity, in this same Edict, 
to abolish once and for all the custom of bringing actors to the 
Palace to be made eunuchs, holding it to be wise, while His 
Majesty is still a minor, that everything that might tend in any 
way to lead him into paths of extravagance and dissipation 
should be firmly nipped in the bud. The Censor’s present 
Memorial has therefore filled us with real amazement. At a 
time like this, when rebellions are still raging, and our people 
are in sore distress, when our treasuries are empty and our 
revenues insufficient for the needs of Government, our hearts 
are heavy with sorrowful thoughts, and must be so, especially 
as long as His late Majesty’s remains have not yet been born to 
their final resting place. How then could we possibly permit 
such a state of things as the Censor describes? ^ Furthermore, 
it is the duty of the Comptroller of our Household to keep a 
complete inventory of all bullion and silken stuffs in the Palace, 

^ This form of argument, under similar conditions,, obtains all over the 
Empire. “ How could I possibly squeeze my master ? ** says the servant. 



none of which can be touched without our express permission. 
Surely this is sufficient to prove that all these rumours are utterly 
devoid of foundation. 

“Nevertheless, in our remote seclusion of the Palace, it is 
inevitable that we should be kept in ignorance of much that goes 
on, so that it is just possible there may be some ground for 
these reports. It may be that certain evil-disposed eunuchs 
have been committing irregularities beyond the Palace precincts, 
and, if so, such conduct must be stopped at all costs. We hereby 
command that drastic measures be taken to deal with the 
offenders at once. 

“ It is imperatively necessary that the Emperor, in the 
intervals of his studies, should have about his person only honest 
and steady retainers, with whom he may converse on the arts 
and practice of government. If his attendants are evil men and 
make it their business to flatter his ears and divert his eyes with 
luxurious and effeminate pastimes, the result might well be to 
produce in His Majesty most undesirable tendencies; and any 
fault in the Emperor, however trifling, is liable to involve the 
State in far-reaching misfortunes. We therefore hereby author- 
ise the Ministers of our Household to see to it that the Chief 
Eunuch enforces strict discipline upon all his subordinates, and 
should any of them hereafter venture to commit presumptuous 
acts, or to display their overweening arrogance, they must at 
once be arrested by the police and severely punished. And 
should such a case occur the Chief Eunuch will also be dismissed 
for neglect of his duty of supervision, and the Comptrollers of 
the Household will incur our severe displeasure, with penalties. 
Let this Decree be copied and preserved in the archives of the 
Household and the Ante-Chambers.’* 

Thus, Tzu Hsi, in her best manner, “for the gallery.” 
But, “in the deep seclusion of our Palace,” life went on as 
before, the merry round of an Oriental Trianon, while 
the Chief Eunuch’s influence over the young Empress 
became greater every day. It was common knowledge, 
and the gossip of the tea-houses, that his lightest whim 
was law in the Forbidden City; that Yehonala and he. 
dressed in fancy costumes from historical plays, would 
make frequent excursions on the Palace lake; that he fre- 
quently wore the Dragon robes sacred to the use of the 
sovereign, and that the Empress had publicly presented 
him with the jade “ju-yi,” symbol of royal power. /Undejr 
these circumstances it was only natural, if not inevitable, 
that unfounded rumours should be rife in exaggeration of 


jpcal facts, and so we find it reported ffidf An Te-hai 
eunuch, and again, that Yehonala liad teW 
delivered of a son ^ of which he was the father ; many 
fantastic and moving tales were current of the licentious 
festivities of the Court, of students masquerading as 
^eunuchs and then being put out of the way in the sub- 
terranean galleries of the Palace. Rumours and tales of 
orgies ; inventions no doubt, for the most part, yet inevit- 
able in the face of the notorious and undeniable corruption 
that had characterised the Court and the seraglio under 
the dissolute Hsien-Feng, and justified, if not confirmed, 
as time went on, by an irresistible consensus of opinion 
in the capital, and by fully substantiated events in the 
Empress Dowager’s career. 

Of these events, one, which had far-reaching results, 
was her violation of the dynastic house-law which forbade 
eunuchs to leave the capital. In 1869, being short of funds, 
and desiring to replenish her Privy Purse without consult- 
ing Prince Kung or her colleague the Co-Regent, she 
despatched her favourite An Te-hai on a special mission 
to Shantung, where he was to collect tribute in her name^* 
By this time the Chief Eunuch had incurred the bitter 
enmity of several of the Princes of the Imperial Clan, and 
especially of Prince Kung, not only because of his grow- 
ing influence over Tzu Hsi, but because of his insolent 
bearing to all at Court. On one occasion the Empress had 
fiurtly sent word to Prince Kung that she could not ^ant 
him audience because she was busy talking to the eunucii, 
an insult which the Prince never forgot and which cost the 
favourite his life, besides leading to the disgrace of the 
Prince and other consequences serious to the Empire. 

The Chief Eunuch’s illegal mission to Shantung, and 

^ Chinese pamphleteers in Canton record the event with much detail, 
and state that this son is alive to-day under the n^e of Chiu Min. 

* A fantastic account of this mission is contained in an imaginative 
work (Za Vie SecrHe de la Cour de Chine^ Paris, 1910), where the Chief 
Eunuch's name is given as ** Siao.” This curious blunder is due to the 
net that the Eunuch's nickname, on account of his stature, was ** Hsiao 
An'rh" (little Ann), just as Li Lien-Ying’s was “P'i Hsiao" Li all over 
China. « 

li.M. i/> li'i, ifiR Consort (LvnTx Vi') ani» Princii'ar Co: 

II. M. Kt ANG-IISL', A«. ' UMI’ \MEI» I;^ C< >f R l L\DIE> AM 



his outrageous behaviour in that province, provided Prince 
Kung with a long-sought opportunity not only of wreaking 
vengeance on him but of creating rivalry and enmity 
between the ' Empresses Regent. The Governor of Shan- 
tung, an able and courageous official named Ting Pao- 
chen, who had distinguished himself in the Taiping 
rebellion, was highly incensed at the arrogant eunuch^s 
assumption of Imperial authority, and being quite au 
courant with the position of affairs in the Palace, he reported 
direct to Prince Kung and asked for instructions. The 
Governor’s* despatch reached the Prince while Tzu Hsi 
was amusing herself with theatricals ; without a moment’s 
dl)^y he sought audience of Tzu An, the Co-Regent 
Empress, and, playing upon her vanity and weak disposi- 
tion, induced her to sign a Decree, which he drafted in 
her presence, ordering the eunuch’s summary decapita- 
tion the customary formality of a trial in Peking being 
dispensed with. Tzu An, hard pressed as she was, gave 
her consent reluctantly and with a clear presentiment of 
evil to come from the wrath of her masterful colleague- 
“The Western Empress will assuredly kill me for this,” 
she is reported to have said to the Prince, as she handed 
him the sealed Decree, which Kung sent off post-haste by 
special courier. 

The following is the text of this interesting document : — 

“ Ting Pao-chen reports that a eunuch has been creating 
disturbances in the province of Shantung. According to the 
Department Magistrate of Te Chou, a eunuch named An and 
his followers passed through that place by way of the Imperial 
Canal, in two dragon barges, with much display of pomp and 
pageantry. He announced that he had come on an Imperial 
mission to procure Dragon robes. His barges flew a black 
banner, bearing in its centre the triple Imperial emblems of the 
Sun, and there were also Dragon and Phoenix flags flying on 
both sides of his vessels. ^ A goodly company of both sexes were 
in attendance on this person ; there were female musicians, 
skilled in the use of string and wind instruments. The banks 
of the Canal were lined with crowds of spectators, who' witnessed 
with amazement and admiration his progress. The 21st day of 
last month happened to be this eunu^’s birthday ,.ko he'arrayed 

^ The Phoenix flag signified that he was sent by the Empresses Regent. 


himself in Dragon robes, and stood on the foredeck of his barge, 
to receive the homage of his suite. The local Magistrate was 
just about to order his arrest v/hen the barges set sail and 
proceeded southwards. The Governor adds that he has already 
given orders for his immediate arrest. 

*^We are dumbfoundered at this report. How can we hope 
ever to purify the standard of morals in the Palace and frighten 
evil-doers, unless we make an example of this insolent eunuch, 
who has dared to leave Peking without our permission and to 
commit these lawless deeds? The Governors of the three pro- 
vinces of Shantung, Honan and Kiangsu are ordered to seek out 
and arrest the eunuch An, whom we had formerly honoured with 
rank of the sixth grade and the decoration of the crow’s feather. 
Upon his being duly identified by his companions, let him be 
forthwith beheaded, without further formalities, no attention is 
to be paid to any crafty explanations which he may attempt to 
make. The Governors concerned will be held responsible in the 
event of failure to effect his arrest.” 

Tzu Hsi remained for some time in blissful ignorance of 
her favourite’s danger, and even of his death. No doubt 
the Chief Eunuch’s great unpopularity enabled Prince 
Kung and the Empress Tzu An to keep the matter secret 
until the offender was past helping. Ten days later, Tzii 
An issued a second Decree, extracted from her like the 
first by Prince Kung, in which the eunuch’s execution is 
recorded, as follows : — 

“ Ting Pao-chen now reports that the eunuch An was arrested 
in the T’ai An prefecture and has been summarily beheaded. 
Our dynasty’s house-law is most strict in regard to the proper 
discipline of eunuchs, and provides severe punishment for any 
offences which they may commit. They have always been sternly 
forbidden to make expeditions to the provinces, or to create 
trouble. Nevertheless, An Te-hai actually had the brazen 
effrontery to violate this law, and for his crimes his execution 
is only a fitting reward. In future, let all eunuchs take warning 
by his example ; should we have further cause to complain, the 
chief eunuchs of the several departments of the Household, will 
be punished as well as the actual offender. Any eunuch who 
may hereafter pretend that he has been sent on Imperial business 
to the provinces shall be cast into chains at once, and sent to 
Peking for punishment.” 

This Decree has a half-hearted ring, as if $ome of the 
conspirators* fear of the coming wrath of Yehonala had 


crept into it. Very different in wording are the Edicts in 
which Tzu Hsi condemns an offender to death. We miss 
her trenchant style, that “strength of the pen” which was 
the secret of much of her power. 

Simultaneously with the death of An, in Shantung, 
several eunuchs of his following were put to death by 
strangling; six others escaped from the police, of whom 
live were recaptured and executed. The Chief Eunuch’s 
family were sent as slaves to the frontier guards in the 
north-west. Several days after the execution of Tzu Hsi’s 
favourite, the eunuch who had escaped made his way back 
to Peking, and sent word to the Empress through Li Lien- 
ying, another of her confidential attendants. At first she 
could scarcely believe that her timorous and self-effacing 
colleague could have dared to sign these Decrees on her 
own responsibility and in secret, no matter what amount 
of pressure might have been brought to bear upon her. 
When she realised what had occurred, the Palace witnessed 
one of those outbursts of torrential rage with which it was 
to become familiar in years to come. Swiftly making her 
way to the “ Palace of Benevolent Peace,” the residence of 
her Co-Regent, she wrathfully demanded an explanation. 
Tzu An, terrified, endeavoured to put the whole blame 
upon Prince Kung; but the plea did not serve her, and 
Tzu Hsi, after a fierce quarrel, left, vowing vengeance on 
them both. This event marked a turning point in the 
career of Yehonala, who, until then, had maintained 
amicable relations with her less strong-minded colleague, 
and all the appearances of equality in the Co-Regency. 
Henceforward she devoted more time and closer attention 
to affairs of State, consolidating her position and power 
with a clear determination to prevent any further interfer- 
ence with her supreme authority. From this time forward 
she definitely assumes the first place as ruler of China, 
relegating her colleague completely to the background. 

When, on the morning after the storm, Prinfce Kung 
appeared in the Audience Hall, Tzu Hsi sternly rebuked 
him, threatening him with dismissal and the "forfeiture of 
his titles. For the time being, however, she allowed him to 


go uaputiished, but she never forgave the offence, and she 
took her revenge in due season : he suffered the effects of 
her resentment as long as he lived. Her first act was to 
pass over his son, the rightful heir to the Throne, upon 
the death of T’ung-Chih. It is true that in after years she 
permitted him to hold high office, but this was, firstly, 
because she could not afford to dispense with his services, 
and, secondly, because of her genuine affection for his 
daughter, whom she had adopted as her own child. 

An Te-hai was succeeded in the post of Chief Eunuch 
and confidential attendant on her Majesty by Li Lien-ying, 
of whom mention has already been made. For the next 
forty years this Palace servant was destined to play a lead- 
ing part in the government of China, to hold in his supple 
hands the lives and deaths of thousands, to make and 
unmake the highest officials of the Empire, and to levy 
rich tribute on the eighteen provinces. As a youth of 
sixteen, when he ‘‘left the family ” (as the Chinese euphem- 
istically describe the making of a eunuch), Li was remark- 
able for his handsome appearance and good manners, 
advantages which never failed to carry weight with Tzii 
Hsi. It is recorded on trustworthy authority that at an 
early stage in his career he had so ingratiated himself with 
Her Majesty that he was permitted unusual liberties, 
remaining seated in her presence, aye, even on the Throne 
itself. In the privacy of her apartments he was allowed 
to discuss whatever subjects he chose, without being 
spoken to, and as years passed and his familiarity with 
the Old Buddha increased, he became her regular and 
authoritative adviser on all important State business. In 
later years, when speaking of Her Majesty to outsiders, 
even to high officials, he would use the familiar pronoun 
**Tsa-men ** ^ meaning “we two,” which is usually reserved 
for blood relations or persons on a footing of familiar 
equality, and he was currently known among his followers 
by the almost sacrilegious title of “ Lord of nine thousand 
years,” the Emperor being Lord of ten thousand. Only 

^ The same expression is used of a novice taking the vows of Buddhist 


on solemn State occasions did he observe the etiquette 
prescribed for his class and a modest demeanour. 

Corrupt, avaricious, vindictive and fiercely cruel to his 
enemies and rivals, it must be said in Li’s favour that he 
was, at least, wholly devoted and faithful to his Imperial 
mistress, and that at times of peril he never failed to exert 
himself to the utmost for her comfort and protection. He 
possessed, moreover, other good qualities which appealed 
not only to Tzu Hsi but to many of the high Manchu 
officials, who did not consider it beneath their pride to 
throng for admission at his private residence. He was 
cheerful, fond of a joke, an excellent actor ^ and raconteur ^ 
and a generous host : above all, he was passing rich. At 
the Empress Dowager’s funeral, in November 1909, this 
aged retainer presented a pathetic and almost venerable 
spectacle, enough to make one forget for a moment the 
accumulated horrors of his seventy years of wickedness. 
Smitten with age and sickness, he could scarcely totter 
the short distance which the cortege had to make on foot ; 
but of all that vast throng of officials and Palace servants, 
he alone showed unmistakable signs of deep and genuine 
grief. Watching the intelligent features of this maker of 
secret history, one could not but wonder what thoughts 
were passing through that subtle brain, as he shuffled past 
the Pavilion of the Diplomatic Body, escorting for the last 
time his great mistress, — the close confidant, not to say 
comrade, of all those long and eventful years. For half 
a century he had served her with unremitting zeal and 
fidelity, no small thing in a country when the allegiance 
of servants is so commonly bought and sold. In his youth 
it was he who walked and ran beside her chair as body 
servant; through what scenes of splendour and squalor 
had they both passed since then, and now he was left alone, 
surrounded by new faces and confronted by imminent peril 
of change. Yet in spite of his long life and the enervating 


^ Tzii Hsi was fond of masquerading with her iavoi\rite, till well 
advanced in years. One photograph of her is on sale in Peking, wherein 
she is posing as the Goddess of Mercy (Kuanyin) with Li in attendance 
as one of the Boddhisatvas. 


influences of his profession, the old man's powerful 
physique was by no means exhausted. 

Too wise to follow in the footsteps of his unfortunate 
predecessor, Li never made raids on his own account into 
the provinces, nor did he ever attempt to gain or claim 
high official rank remaining prudently content with the 
fourth class button, which is the highest grade to which 
eunuchs may legally aspire. But, under the protection 
and with the full knowledge of the Empress Dowager, he 
organised a regular system of corvees, squeezes and 
douceurs, levied on every high official in the Empire, the 
proceeds of which he frequently shared with the Old 
Buddha herself. As shown in another place, the Empress 
and her Chief Eunuch practically made common cause and 
a common purse in collecting “tribute" and squeezes 
during the wanderings of the Court in exile after 1900. 
At that time the Chief Eunuch, less fortunate than his 
mistress, had lost the whole of his buried treasure in the 
capital. It had been “cacfeed" in a safe place, known 
only to his intimate subordinates, but one of these sold 
the secret to the French troops, who raided the hoard, a 
rich booty. One of Li's first steps after the Court’s return 
was to obtain the Old Buddha’s permission to have the 
traitor beheaded, which was done without undue form- 
alities. The Chief Eunuch’s fortune was estimated by 
Peking bankers in 1910 at about two millions sterling, 
invested chiefly in pawn-shops and money-changing estab- 
lishments at the capital ; this sum represents roughly his 
share of the provincial tribute and squeezes on official 
appointments since 1900, and the total is not surprising 
when we bear in mind that the price of one official post 
has been known to bring him in as much as three hundred 
and twenty thousand taels, or say forty thousand pounds. 

One of the secrets of his wealth was that he never 
despised the day of small things. The following is the 
text of a letter in our possession (of which we reproduce a 
facsimile), written by him to one of the regular contractors 
of the Palace, with whom he must have had many similar 
transactions. The paper on which it is written is of the 


commonest, and the visiting card which, as usual, accom- 
panies it, is that of an unpretentious business man ; the 
style of the writer is terse and to the point ; — 

‘‘To my worthy friend, Mr. Wang, the Seventh (of his 
family) : — 

Since I last had the pleasure of seeing you, you have been 
constantly in my thoughts. I wish you, with all respect, long 
life and prosperity : thus will your days fulfil my best hopes of 
you. And now I beg politely to tell you that I, your younger 
brother,^ am quite ashamed of the emptiness of my purse and I 
therefore beg that you, good Sir, will be so good as to lend me 
notes to the amount of fifteen hundred taels, which sum kindly 
hand to the bearer of this letter. 1 look forward to a day for 
our further conversation, 

“Your younger brother, 

“Li Lien-ying.” 

As to the amount, Li knew exactly how much the con- 
tractors and furnishers of the Palace should pay on every 
occasion, and that there was no need to question the 
possibility of the “loan*’ not being forthcoming. 

That he encouraged lavish expenditure at the Court is 
certain, and scarcely a matter for wonder, but his control of 
finance extended far beyond the Privy Purse, and wrought 
great harm to the Empire on more than one historic 
occasion. For instance, China’s humiliating defeat at the 
hands of Japan in 1894 was very largely due to his diver- 
sion of vast sums of money from the Navy to the recon- 
struction and decoration of the Summer Palace, a work 
from which he and his underlings profited to no small 
extent. In 1885, Prince Ch’un had been appointed head 
of the Admiralty Board, assisted by Prince Ch’ing, Li 
Hung-chang and the Marquis Tseng. After tlie death of 
the Marquis, however (who had been a moving spirit in 
the organisation of the Board), Naval affairs passed into 
the control of a clique of young and inexperienced Princes, 
and when, in 1889, l^he Emperor assumed the direction 
of the Government, one of his first acts was to. order 
the re-building of the Summer Palace, which Imperial 

^ A term of humility. 


residence had remained in ruins since its destruction by the 
Allies in i86i. There being no funds available, Li advised 
that the Naval appropriations should be devoted to this 
purpose, so that the Old Buddha might be suitably pro- 
vided with a residence ; this was accordingly done, and the 
Naval Department became a branch of the Imperial House- 
hold (Nei Wu Fu) for all purposes of Government finance. 
When the war with Japan broke out, the Empress Dowager 
issued orders that the Naval Department should be 
abolished. This order evoked very general criticism, but, 
as the Department and the Summer Palace rebuilding fund 
had come to be treated as one and the same account, her 
Decree simply meant that as the Palace restoration was 
now complete, and as the funds were quite exhausted, the 
account in question might be considered closed. There 
was obviously nothing to be gained by useless enquiries 
for money to be transferred from the Palace to the 

In 1889 the Chief Eunuch accompanied Prince Ch’un on 
his first tour of inspection to the northern Naval ports, 
including the Naval bases of Port Arthur and Weihaiwei. 
It was a matter of very general comment at the time that 
the honours paid to the eunuch were noticeably greater 
than those shown to the Prince. Every officer in the 
Peiyang squadron, from Admiral Ting downwards, did his 
best to ingratiate himself with this powerful Chamberlain, 
and to become enrolled on the list of his proteges, so that 
he was entoure with all manner of bribery and adulation. 
Many critics, foreign and Chinese, have cast on Li Hung- 
chang the blame for the disasters of the Japanese war, but 
they surely overlook the fact, to which even the great 
Viceroy dared not openly refer, that nine-tenths of the 
funds which should have gone to the upkeep and provision- 
ing of the Navy and the maintenance of the Coast Defences, 
had been diverted by the Chief Eunuch to the Palace (and 
much of them to his own pocket), so that the ships’ crews 
were disaffected, and their ordnance defective, in the hour 
of need. Readers of Pepys will remember a very similar 
state of affairs obtaining in the British Navy, happily 


without affecting the morale of its officers and men, at a 
similarly critical period of British history. 

Li Lien-ying’s hatred of the Emperor Kuang-Hsu was 
beyond doubt a most important factor in the coup d^etatf 
and in the subsequent estrangement and hostility between 
Tzu Ilsi and the nominal ruler of the Empire; there are 
not lacking those who say that it had much to do with the 
Emperor’s death, which certainly created no surprise in 
the capital. The eunuch hated and feared the Emperor’s 
reforming zeal, as well as the Cantonese advisers who in 
1898 came swarming to Peking as the apostles of a new 
dispensation, and it was therefore only natural that he 
should become the foremost adviser and partisan of the 
reactionaries and their emissary in urging the Empress to 
resume control of affairs. It is quite safe to assert that had 
his great influence with Tzu Hsi been exercised against, 
instead of for, the Boxers, had he abstained from encourag- 
ing her superstitious belief in their magic arts, the anti- 
foreign movement would never have gone further than 
the borders of Shantung, and the Chinese people would 
have been spared the heavy burden of the indemnities. 
How interesting a study of Asiatic politics and Court life 
presents itself in the spectacle of this cobbler’s apprentice 
and his influence on the destinies of so great a race ! See- 
ing him as he was on the day of his mistress’s burial, how 
bitter must have been the innermost thoughts of the man, 
left alone on the brink of the grave, with the ill-gotten 
wealth that his country has paid for so heavily ! 

At the height of the Boxer crisis when the power wielded 
by Li Lien-ying was enormous, it was the custom of 
Prince Tuan, when explaining his views to the Empress 
Dowager and the Grand Council, to emphasise the fact 
that no step had been taken except with the advice and 
approval of the Chief Eunuch. “Such and such a Decree,” 
he would say, “is issued with the Chief Chamberlain Li’s 
approval.” His object in so doing was to head off opposi- 
tion, for he well knew that few would dare to jsppose any 
measures that the Chief Eunuch approved. When Her 
Majesty granted rewards to the Boxers and offered head- 


money to the troops for the killing of Europeans, it was at 
Li’s urgent request that she consented to defray these 
unusual charges from her Privy Purse. 

When the relieving forces drew near to Peking and it 
became clear, even to the most obstinate, that the Boxer 
bolt was shot, the Chief Eunuch passed through a period 
of deep depression and mortification, not only because of 
the failure of his prophecies, but because it was clear to all 
at Court that his Imperial mistress, seeking, as was her 
wont, a scapegoat, was disposed to vent her wrath upon 
him. Herself deeply stirred by fear and wrath, it was only 
natural that she should turn on him, who had been fore- 
most in advising her to follow the path of destruction. 
On the day when the relief of the Legations took place, 
Duke Lan rushed headlong into the Palace, loudly announ- 
cing that the foreign devils were already within the city 
walls. Tzu Hsi turned on him and asked how he could 
reconcile such a statement with his previous boasts. “I 
presume that the devils have flown here,” said she, ‘‘for 
you were telling me only two days ago of our glorious 
victories near Tientsin ; and yet all the time you knew well, 
as I knew, that the Viceroy and Li Ping-heng were both 
dead.” Li Lien-ying, who was standing close by, hearing 
this, went out and informed the trembling crowd of 
eunuchs, adding, “The Old Buddha is in an unspeakable 
rage. There is nothing for it ; we must make our escape and 
retire into Shensi. There we wull await the arrival of our 
reinforcements which will easily drive all these devils back 
into the sea.” But the hardships and dangers of the flight 
told even more severely on the Chief Eunuch than on the Old 
Buddha herself, and it was not until the Court’s safe estab- 
lishment at Hsi-an that he recovered his self-possession. 

Certain information conveyed by an official of the 
Household in exile to a fellow provincial at Peking, throws 
considerable light on the manner in which the Court lived 
during those troublous days, and the part played in affairs 
of State by the Chief Eunuch and Tzu Hsi’s other 
favourites of the Household. We take the following 
disconnected notes from this correspondence. 



When Ts’en Ch’un-hsiian (Governor of Shensi) came to 
meet the court on the Shansi frontier, the Old Buddha, 
raising the curtain of her sedan-chair, looked out and said 
to him, ‘‘Have you any idea of what we have suffered in 
Peking?” “I do not know all,” he replied. Pointing 
angrily at Li, she said, “It was all his doing; he has 
brought ruin upon me.” The Chief Eunuch hung his 
head, and for once had nothing to say. Later on, when the 
fearless Ts’en saw the eunuchs under Li’s orders merci- 
lessly harassing the countryside in their search for plunder, 
he promptly reported matters to the Empress and obtained 
her somewhat reluctant permission to execute three of the 
offenders on the spot. He was sorely tempted to include 
the Chief Eunuch in the number of his victims, but realis- 
ing how greatly Her Majesty depended upon her favourite 
attendant, he feared to run the risk of inconveniencing and 
offending her. Nevertheless, Li had a narrow escape. 
Later on, when Li had recovered his equanimity, and the 
Court had settled down to its usual routine, the eunuch 
revenged himself on the Governor, with the help of Jung 
Lu, by having him transferred to the Governorship of 
Shansi. He did this, not only because the post in Shansi 
was considered a dangerous one, owing to the fear of pur- 
suit by the Allies, but because Ts’en had gradually made 
himself most useful to Her Majesty by superintending the 
expenditure of her Household. The Governor was justly 
famous throughout the Empire for his incorruptible 
honesty, so that, when placed in charge of the Palace 
accounts, these speedily showed a very considerable re- 
duction in expenditure. The first result of this regime was 
to put a stop to all the “squeeze” of the eunuchs, and to 
place their salaries upon a definite and moderate basis. 
Ts’en rapidly attained an intimate and confidential position 
with Her Majesty, to the great and increasing wrath of 
the Chief Eunuch, who left no stone unturned to injure 
him, and eventually succeeded, with the help of Jung Lu, 
in inducing Her Majesty to dispense with his personal- 
services. For over a month, however, the Old Buddha 
spent hours daily discussing public and private affairs with 


this fearless and upright official, and it would have been 
well for her had she retained him and others of his quality 
about her to counteract the corrupt tendencies of her 
Manchu clansmen and the eunuchs. After Ts’en’s transfer 
to Shansi, the Chief Eunuch did not scruple to suppress 
and destroy many of the memorials which as Governor he 
addressed to the Old Buddha, and which Li did not desire 
his mistress to see. Gradually he re-established himself 
as completely as before in the confidence and favour of his 
mistress, and before the Court’s return to Peking he had 
become if anything more familiarly arrogant than at any 
previous stage in his career. At audiences given to the 
highest officials he would even go so far as to refuse to 
transmit Her Majesty’s orders, bluntly informing her that 
he was tired and that there had been enough public business 
for that day ! 

The vast quantities of tribute levied by the Court from 
the Southern Provinces at this time were handled in the 
first instance by Li Lien-ying, whose apartments were 
stacked with heaps of dragon robes, tribute silk and other 
valuables. Of all the tribute paid in bullion, the Empress 
Dowager’s share was one-half, while the eunuchs divided 
one-fifth, and the balance was handed over to Jung Lu for 
military purposes and his own emolument. So profitable 
was the eunuchs’ business at Hsi-an and Kai-feng, that 
Li Lien-ying did his utmost to dissuade the Old Buddha 
from returning to Peking, endeavouring to frighten her by 
alarming prognostications of the vengeance of the foreign 
Powers. Li’s motives were not entirely mercenary, how- 
ever, for there is no doubt that for a long time he fully 
expected to find his own name on the “black list” of the 
Legations, and that it fully deserved to figure there. He 
directed the second eunuch, named Ts’ui, to communicate 
to him daily the latest news from Peking, and it was only 
when reassured by reports from Prince Ch’ing, that his 
courage returned, and his opposition to the Court’s return 
ceased. The conciliatory attitude, which he eventually 
adopted towards the Empress Dowager’s reform policy, 
was largely induced by the good advice which he received 


from Jung Lu, who strongly urged him to control his 
reactionary opinions and violent temper. 

The amount of tribute paid in silver to the Court at 
Hsi-an was over five million taels, the quota from each 
Province being kept separate. The Chief Eunuch was 
assisted in the supervision of the tribute accounts by 
another favourite of the Old Buddha, a eunuch named Sun, 
whose covetousness and bullying methods of “squeeze” 
were almost equal to those of his chief. On one occasion 
the deputy in charge of the tribute from Hupei was paying 
in bullion to the Imperial Household, and Sun was tally- 
ing the amounts with a steelyard. He said there was a 
shortage. “That cannot be so,” said the deputy, “for 
every shoe of Hupei silver weighs fifty taels exactly, so 
that there can be no mistake.” The eunuch looked at him 
insolently, and said, “How many times have you brought 
tribute, and what do you know about the customs of the 
Court ? ” The frightened deputy persisted that all was in 
order. Sun then said angrily : “ I suppose, then, you mean 
that the Old Buddha’s scales are false?” He was just 
proceeding to assault the unfortunate deputy, when the 
Old Buddha herself, overhearing the argument (the court- 
yards of her residence being very small) came out and 
directed the eunuch to bring the silver into her own apart- 
ments, where she would weigh it herself. “ I believe there 
has been a great deal of leakage lately,” she said; “it is 
the business of my eunuchs to see that I am not cheated.” 
The deputy took his departure, looking extremely crest- 
fallen, but on his way out he was met by Chi Lu, the 
Controller of the Household, who said to him, “We all 
know you have been having a bad time of it, but you must 
not mind. These eunuchs have been making very little 
money of late, for the Old Buddha has been keeping a 
very sharp watch on them ; you must therefore excuse them. 
And they have lost a great deal in Peking.” 

Tribute of twenty-four kinds was received from Canton, 
but the eunuchs on their own initiative, and in 'order to 
compel largesse, rejected nine different kinds* of articles,* so 
that the official in charge was greatly alarmed, fearing that 


the Old Buddha would accuse him of having stolen the 
things which the eunuchs refused to receive. This was one 
of their commonest methods of levying tribute on their own 
account ; another was to make large purchases in the name 
of the Empress, and refuse to pay for them. Much hard- 
ship was inflicted on the people of Hsi-an, and indeed of 
the entire province, from their depredations, especially 
because at the time Shensi was already suffering from the 
beginnings of famine, caused by the prolonged drought. 
It is recorded in the accounts of the Governor Ts’en, that 
flour cost 96 cash a pound, eggs 34 cash apiece, and pork 
400 cash a pound, while fish was almost unobtainable; 
these prices being about six times as high as those ruling 
in Southern China. 

Many of the eunuchs appeared to take pleasure in 
humiliating the Emperor, and subjecting him to petty 
annoyances, which often roused him to petulant outbursts 
of temper. In one letter from the Court at Hsi-an it was 
reported that His Majesty appeared to be a little wrong in 
the head, for he would spend his time playing foolish 
games, such as hide-and-seek, with the younger eunuchs, 
until interrupted by the Empress Dowager, when he would 
immediately get into a corner and assume a sullen demean- 
our. At other times, when irritated, he would give way to 
violent fits of rage and throw the household crockery at 
the heads of his attendants. These reports must be 
received with caution, as they were frequently spread 
abroad by the Chief Eunuch and members of the reaction- 
ary party in order to damage His Majesty in the eyes of 
the outside world. 

As above stated, after the return of the Court from its 
journeying in the wilderness (1902) Li’s influence with the 
Empress Dowager was, if anything, greater than before, 
all the internal affairs of the Palace being under his supreme 
control. Following Her Majesty’s example however, he 
professed his coniplete conversion to the necessity of 
reform, and even gave his approval, after certain amend- 
ments had been made by the Grand Council and by him- 
self, to her programme for the granting of a Constitution. 


Jesting with Her Majesty in his usual familiar manner, he 
was heard on more than one occasion to predict her con- 
version to Christianity. “We are only sham devils now, 
Old Buddha,” he said. 

Nevertheless, and in spite of advancing years and 
infirmity, he continued to cling tenaciously to the per- 
quisites and privileges of his stewardship, fiercely defend- 
ing the eunuch system and his own post by all the means 
(and they were many) in his power. When, in 1901, T*ao 
Mo, late Viceroy of Canton, sent in his famous Memorial 
urging that, in view of the greatly reduced number of the 
Imperial concubines, the eunuchs should be replaced by 
female attendants, Li successfully intrigued to prevent this 
document reaching Her Majesty until he had taken effective 
steps to prevent her being advised in favour of the 
suggestion . 

Since that day, there were repealed denunciations of the 
eunuch system, and rumours of their impending removal, 
but their influence showed little sign of diminution, and 
officials of the courage and integrity of T’ao Mo were a 
small minority in the Mandarinate. Reform measures on 
paper are numerous enough, measures forecasting self- 
denial and zeal for the common good at some future and 
undetermined date, but it was significant of the condition 
of affairs and the strong hold of the powers of reaction, 
that the native Press passed from its former robust in- 
dependence under complete official control, and that the 
voice of Young China, which formerly denounced the 
eunuchs and other causes of national degeneration, was but 
faintly heard in the land. 



In the eleventh year of T’ung-Chih (November 1872) the 
Empresses Dowager, as Co-Regents, issued a Decree re- 
counting the circumstances which had led to the Regency 
(which they once more described as having been thrust 
upon them), and announced the fact that His Majesty’s 
education having been completed, they now proposed to 
hand over to him the reigns of government ; they there- 
fore directed that the Court of Astronomers should select 
^n auspicious day upon which His Majesty should assume 
control. The astrologers and soothsayers having an- 
nounced that the 26th day of the ist Moon was of fortunate 
omen (wherein, as far as the Emperor was concerned, they 
lied), the Co-Regents issued on that day the last Decree 
of their first Regency, which is worth reproducing : — 

“ His Majesty assumes to-day the control of the Government, 
and our joy at this auspicious event is in some degree blended 
with feelings of anxiety as to the possible results of this change ; 
but we bear in mind the fact that his sacred Ancestors have all 
feared the Almighty, and endeavoured to follow in the sacred 
traditions of their predecessors. At the moment, peace has not 
been completely restored throughout the Empire, for rebellion 
is still rife in Yunnan, Shensi and the North-West region. It 
behoves the Emperor to bear steadily in mind the greatness of 
the task which God and his ancestors have laid upon him alone, 
and carefully to obey the House laws of the Dynasty in all things. 
When not actually engaged on business of State, he should 
employ his time in studying the classics and the precedents of 
history, carefully enquiring into the causes which have produced 
good or bad government, from the earliest times down to the 
present day. He should be thrifty and diligent, endeavouring 
to make perfect his government. This has been our one con- 
stant endeavour since we took upon ourselves the Regency, the 
one ideal that has been steadily before our eyes.’^ 



The Decree concludes with the usual exhortation to the 
Grand Council and the hi^h officers of the Provincial 
administration, to serve the Throne with zeal and loyalty. 

As far as the Emperor was concerned, these admirable 
sentiments appeared to have little or no effect, for his 
conduct from the outset was undutiful, not to say dis- 
respectful, to his mother. Nor was this to be wondered 
at, when we remember that since his early boyhood he had 
shown a marked preference for the Empress Dowag-er of 
the East (Tzu An) and that he was well aware of the many 
dissensions and intrigues rife in the Palace generally, and 
particularly between the Co-Regents. He had now attained 
his seventeenth year, and, with it, something of the auto- 
cratic and imperious nature of his august parent. He was 
encouraged in his independent attitude by the wife whom 
Tzu Hsi had chosen for him, the virtuous A-lu-te. This 
lady was of patrician origin, being a daughter of the 
assistant Imperial tutor, Ch’ung Ch’i. In the first flush of 
supreme authority, the boy Emperor and his young wife 
would appear to have completely ignored the danger of 
their position, but they were speedily to learn by bitter 
experience that Tzu Hsi was not to be opposed, and that 
to live peacefully with her in the Palace was an end that 
could only be attained by complete submission to her 
will. The first trouble arose from the Emperor’s refusal 
to submit State documents for his mother’s inspection, 
but there were soon other and more serious causes of 
friction. But above and behind all lay the ominous fact 
that, in the event of an heir being born to the Emperor, 
A-lu-te would from that day become Empress mother, 
and in the event of the Emperor’s subsequent decease, to 
her would belong by right the title of Empress Dow^ager, 
so that, come what might, Tzu Hsi would be relegated to a 
position of obscurity and insignificant authority. It is 
impossible to overlook this fact in forming our opinion of 
subsequent events, and especially of the motives which 
actuated the Empress Dowager when, after* the -death* of 
T’ung-Chih, she insisted on the election of another infant 
Emperor at all costs and in violation of the sacred laws of 


Dynastic succession. Apart from her inability to brook 
any form of opposition and her absolutely unscrupulous 
methods for ridding herself of anything or anyone who 
stood in the path of her ambition, no impartial estimate 
of her action at this period can deny the fact that it was 
entirely to her interest that the Emperor T’ung-Chih 
should not have an heir, and that his Consort should 
follow him speedily, in the event of his “mounting the 
Dragon chariot, and proceeding on the long journey.*’ 
All commentators agree that Tzu Hsi encouraged the 
youthful Emperor’s tendencies to dissipated habits, and 
that, when these had resulted in a serious illness, she 
allowed it to wreck havoc with his delicate constitution, 
without providing him with such medical assistance as 
might have been available. One of the members of the 
Imperial Household, by name Kuei Ching,^ deploring the 
Emperor’s licentious habits and foreseeing his early death, 
took occasion to urge that the deplorable influence exercised 
over him by disreputable eunuchs should be removed, and 
that greater care should be taken of his manners, morals 
and health. He even went so far, in his zeal, as to decapi- 
tate several of the offending eunuchs, but in so doing he 
incurred not only the displeasure of the Empress Dowager, 
but of the Emperor himself, who desired neither criticism 
nor assistance from anyone around him. The unfortunate 
Kuei Ching was therefore compelled to resign his post, and 
to leave the Emperor to his fate. His colleagues, the 
Ministers of the Household, Wen Hsi and Kuei Pao, men 
of a very different stamp, and open partisans of the 
Empress Dowager, not only did nothing to restrain the 
Emperor from his vicious courses, but actually encouraged 
him, so that it became a matter of common knowledge and 
notorious in the capital that they and the Emperor together 
were wont to consort with ali the evil characters in the 
worst localities of the Southern City. It became cause for 
scandal in the Palace itself that His Majesty would return 
from his orgies long after the hour fixed for the morning 

' This Kuei Ching was an unde of Tuan Fang, late Viceroy of Chihli 
and a man generally respected. 


audience with his high officers of State, He was mixed 
up in many a drunken brawl and consorted with the lowest 
dregs of the Chinese city, so that it was no matter for sur- 
prise when he contracted the germs of disease which 
speedily led to his death. Already in 1873 it was apparent 
that the Dragon Throne would soon be vacant. In 
December 1874, contracted smallpox and during his 
illness the Empresses Dowager were called upon to assume 
control of the Government. Towards the end of the month, 
he issued the following Decree. 

“We have had the good fortune^ this month to cbntract 
smallpox, and their Majesties, the Empresses Dowager, have 
shown the greatest possible tenderness in the care for our person. 
They have also consented to peruse all Memorials and State 
papers on our behalf, and to carry on the business of the State, 
for which we are deeply grateful. We feel bound to confer 
upon their Majesties additional titles of honour, so as to make 
some return, however small, for their infinite goodness.’* 

The Emperor’s enfeebled constitution was unable to 
resist the ravages of his combined diseases, and his physical 
condition became in the highest degree deplorable; at 
8 p.m. on the 13th January 1875, in the presence of the 
Empresses Dowager and some twenty Princes and Ministers 
of the Household, he “ascended the Dragon ” and was 
wafted on high. Amongst those present at his death-bed 
were the Princes Kung and Ch’un, as well as Tzu Hsi’s 
devoted henchman and admirer Jung Lu. After the Em- 
peror’s death, a Censor, bolder than his fellows, impeached 
the two Ministers of the Household who had openly 
encouraged the Emperor in his dissipated courses, and 
Tzu Hsi, having no further use for their services, dismissed 
them from office. As further proof of her virtuous admira- 
tion for faithful service and disinterested conduct, she 
invited Kuei Ching to resume his appointment, praising his 
loyalty; but he declined the invitation, having by this time 
formed his own opinion of the value of virtue in Her 
Majesty’s service. 

1 This disease is regarded amongst the Chinese as one of good omen, 
especially if the symptoms develop satisfactorily. 


The Emperor having died without issue, all would have 
been plain and meritorious sailing for Tzu Hsi and her 
retention of supreme power, had it not been for the un- 
pleasant fact, known to all the Court, that the Emperor’s 
consort, A-lu-te, was enceinte and therefore might confer 
an heir on the deceased sovereign. In the event of a son 
being born, it was clear that both A-lu-te and Tzu An 
would ipso jacto acquire authority theoretically higher than 
her own, since her title of Empress Mother had lapsed by 
the death of T’ung-Chih, and her original position was 
only that of a secondary consort. As the mother of the 
Emperor, she had by right occupied a predominant position 
during his minority, but this was now ended. It was to 
her motherhood that she had owed the first claims to power ; 
now she had nothing but her own boundless ambition, 
courage and intelligence to take the place of lawful claims 
and natural ties. With the death of her son the Emperor, 
and the near prospect of A-lu-te’s confinement, it was clear 
that her own position would require desperate remedies, 
if her power was to remain undiniinished. 

Among the senior members of the Imperial Clan, many 
of whom were jealous of the influence of the Yehonala 
branch, there was a strong movement in favour of placing 
on the Throne a grandson of the eldest son of the venerated 
Emperor Tao-Kuang, namely, the infant Prince P’u Lun, 
whose claims were excellent, in so far as he was of a 
generation lower than the deceased T’ung-Chih, but com- 
plicated by the fact that his father had been adopted into 
the direct line from another branch. The Princes and 
nobles who favoured this choice pointed out that the infant 
P’u Lun was almost the only nominee who would satisfy 
the laws of succession and allow of the proper sacrifices 
being performed to the spirit of the deceased T’ung-Chih. ^ 

Tzu Hsi, however, was too determined to retain her 
position and power to allow any weight to attach to senti- 

^ The annual and seasonal sacrifices at the ancestral Temple and at 
the Imperial tombs involve “ kotowing before each tablet of the sacred 
ancestors, and this cannot be done in the presence of one of the same 
generation as the last deceased, much less by him. 


mental, religious, or other considerations. If, in order to 
secure her objects, a violation of the ancestral and House- 
laws were neqessary, she was not the woman to hesitate, and 
she trusted to her own intelligence and the servility of her 
tools in the Censorate to put matters right, or, at least, to 
overcome all opposition. At this period she was on bad 
terms with her colleague and Co-Regent, whom she had 
never forgiven for her share in the decapitation of her Chief 
Eunuch, An Te-hai; she hated and mistrusted Prince 
Kung, and there is hardly a doubt that she had resolved to 
get rid of the young Empress A-lu-te before the birth of 
her child. The only member of the Imperial family with 
whom she w^as at this time on intimate terms was her 
brother-in-iaw. Prince Ch’un, the seventh son of the 
Emperor Tao-Kiiang. This Prince, an able man, though 
dissolute in his habits, had married her favourite sister, 
the younger Yehonala, and it will, therefore, be readily 
understood that the reasons which actuated her in deciding 
to place this Prince’s infant son upon the Throne were 
of the very strongest. During his minority she would 
continue to rule the Empire, and, should he live to come 
of age, her sister, the Emperor’s mother, might be expected 
to exert her influence to keep him in the path of dutiful 
obedience. Tzu Hsi’s objection to the son of Prince Kung 
was partly due to the fact that she had never forgiven his 
father for his share in the death of the eunuch. An Te-hai, 
and other offences, and partly because the young Prince 
was now in his seventeenth year, and would, therefore, 
almost immediately have assumed the Government in his 
own person. Tzu Hsi was aware that, in tJiat event, it 
would be in accordance with tradition and the methods 
adopted by the stronger party in the Forbidden City for 
ridding itself of inconvenient rivals and conflicting authori- 
ties, that either she should be relegated to complete 
obscurity here below, or forcibly assisted on the road to 
Heaven. It was thus absolutely necessary for her to put 
a stop to this appointment, and, as usual, she«*acted with* 
prompt thoroughness, which speedily triumphed over the 
disorganised efforts of her opponents. By adroit intrigues, 


exercised chiefly through her favourite eunuch, she headed 
off any attempt to co-operation between the supporters of 
Prince P’u Lun and those of Prince Kung, while, with 
the aid of Jung Lu and the appearance on the scene of a 
considerable force of Li Hung-chang’s Anhui troops, she 
prepared the way for the success of her own plans; her 
preparations made, she summoned a Council of the Clans- 
men and high officials, to elect and appoint the new 

This solemn conclave took place in the Palace of “Mind 
Nurture,” on the western side of the Forbidden City, about 
a quarter of a mile distant from the palace in which the 
Emperor T’ung-Chih had expired. In addition to the 
Empresses Regent, those present numbered twenty-five in 
all, including several Princes and Imperial Clansmen, the 
members of the Grand Council, and several of the highest 
metropolitan officials; but of all thCwSe, only five were 
Chinese. Prince Tsai Chih, the father of Prince P^u Lun, 
was there, as well as Prince Kung, both representing the 
proposed legitimate claims to the Throne. The approaches 
to the Palace were thronged with eunuchs, and Tzu Hsi 
had taken care, with the assistance of Jung Lu, that all 
the strategical points in the Forbidden City should be held 
by troops on whovse loyalty she could completely depend. 
Amongst them were many of Jung Lu’s own Banner 
Corps, as well as detachments chiefly composed of members 
and adherents of the Yehonala clan. By Tzu Hsi’s express 
orders, the newly-widowed Empress A-lu-te was excluded 
from the Council meeting, and remained dutifully weeping 
by the bedside of her departed lord, who had already been 
arrayed in the ceremonial Dragon robes. 

In the Council Chamber Tzu Hsi and her colleague sat 
opposite to each other on Thrones ; all the officials present' 
were on their knees. Taking precedence as usual, and 
assuming as of right the role of chief speaker, Tzu Hsi 
began by remarking that no time must be lost in selecting 
the new Emperor ; it was not fitting that the Throne should 
remain vacant on the assumption that an heir would be 
born to His late Majesty. Prince Kung ventured to dis- 


agree with this opinion, expressing the view that, as 
A-lu-te*s child would shortly be born, there should be no 
difficulty in keeping back the news of the Emperor’s death 
for a little while; the child, if a boy, could then rightly 
and fittingly be placed on the Throne, while in the event 
of the posthumous child being a daughter, there would 
still be time enough to make selection of the Emperor’s 
successor. The Princes and Clansmen appeared to side 
with this view, but Tzu Hsi brushed it aside, observing 
that there were still rebellions unsuppressed in the south, 
and that if it were known that the Throne was empty, the 
Dynasty might very well be overthrown. “When the nest 
is destroyed, how many eggs will remain unbroken ? ” she 
asked. The Grand Councillors and several senior states- 
men, including the three Chinese representatives from the 
south, expressed agreement with this view, for they realised 
that, given conditions of unrest, the recently active Taip- 
ing rebels might very easily renew the anti-Dynastic 

The Empress Dowager of the East then gave it as her 
opinion that Prince Kung’s son should be chosen heir to 
the Throne ; Prince Kung, in accordance with the custom- 
ary etiquette, kotowed and professed unwillingness that 
such honour should fall to his family, and suggested that 
the youthful Prince P’u Lun should be elected. P’u Lun’s 
father in turn pleaded the unworthiness of his offspring, not 
because he really felt any qualms on the subject, but be- 
cause custom necessitated this self-denying attitude. “That 
has nothing to do with the case,” said Tzu Hsi to the 
last speaker, “but as you are only the adopted son of Yi 
Wei” (the eldest son of the Emperor Tao-Kuang) “what 
precedent can any of you show for placing on the Throne 
the heir of an adopted son ? ” Prince Kung, called upon 
to reply, hesitated, and suggested as a suitable precedent, 
the case of a Ming Emperor of the fifteenth century canon- 
ised as Ying-Tsung. “That is a bad precedent,^’ replied 
the Empress, who had every instance of history .at her 
finger ends. “The Emperor Ying-Tsung wa*s not really 
the son of his predecessor, but was palmed off on the 


Emperor by one of the Imperial concubines. His reign 
was a period of disaster; he was for a time in captivity 
under the Mongols and afterwards lived in retirement at 
Peking for eight years while the Throne was occupied by 
his brother.’* Turning next to her colleague she said, 
“As for me, I propose as heir to the Throne, Tsai Tien, 
the son of Yi Huan (Prince Ch’un), and advise you all 
that we lose no time,” On hearing these words Prince 
Kung turned to his brother and angrily remarked : “ Is the 
right of primogeniture ^ to be completely ignored ? ” “Let 
the matter then be decided by taking a vote,” said Tzu 
Hsi, and her colleague offered no objections. The result 
of the vote was that seven of the Princes, led by Prince 
v^h’un, voted for Prince P’u Lun, and three for the son 
of Prince Kung; the remainder of the Council voted solidly 
for Tzu Hsi’s nominee. The voting was done openly and 
the result was entirely due to the strong will and dominat- 
ing personality of the woman whom all had for years 
recognised as the real ruler of China. When the voting 
was concluded, Tzu An, who was always more anxious for 
an amicable settlement than for prolonged discussion, in- 
timated her willingness to leave all further arrangements 
in the hands of her colleague. It was now past nine 
o’clock, a furious dust-storm was raging and the night was 
bitterly cold, but Tzu Hsi, who never wasted time at 
moments of crisis, ordered a strong detachment of House- 
hold troops to be sent to the residence of Prince Ch’un 
in the Western City, and with it the Imperial yellov; sedan 
chair with eight bearers, to bring the boy Emperor to 
the Palace. At the same time, to keep Prince Kung busy 
and out of harm’s way, she gave him charge of the body 
of the dead Emperor, while she had the Palace surrounded 
and strongly guarded by Jung Lu’s troops. It was in her 
careful attention to details of this kind that lay her marked 
superiority to the vacillating and unbusinesslike methods 
of those who opposed her, and it is this Napoleonic charac- 
teristic of the woman which explains much of the success 

' Prince Kung was the sixth, Prince Ch’un the seventh, in order of 


that her own people frequently attributed to luck. Before 
midnight the little Emperor had been duly installed in the 
Palace, weeping bitterly upon his ill-omened coming to the 
Forbidden City. With him came his mother (Tzii Hsi’s 
sister) and several nurses. The first event of his reign, 
imposed upon him, like much future misery, by dynastic 
precedent, was to be taken at once to the Hall where his 
deceased predecessor was lying in State, and there to “ ko- 
tow,” as well as his tender years permitted, before the 
departed ruler. A Decree was thereupon issued in the 
names of the Empresses Dowager, who thus became once 
more Regents, announcing, “that they were absolutely 
compelled to select Tsai Tien for the Throne, and that he 
should become heir by adoption to his uncle Hsien-Feng, 
but that, so soon as he should have begotten a son, the 
Emperor T^ung-Chih would at once be provided with an 

By this means the widowed Empress A-lu-te was com- 
pletely passed over, and the claims of her posthumous 
son ignored in advance. Once more Tzu Hsi had gained 
an easy and complete victory. It was clear to those who 
left the Council Chamber after the issue of this Decree, 
that neither the young widowed Empress nor the unborn 
child of T’ung-Chih were likely to give much more 

For form’s sake, and in accordance with dynastic pre- 
cedents, a Memorial was submitted by all the Ministers and 
Princes of the Household, begging their Majesties the 
Empresses to resume the Regency, who, on their part, 
went through the farce of acceding graciously to thivS 
request, on the time-honoured ground that during the 
Emperor’s minority there must be some central authority 
to whom the officials of the Empire might look for the 
necessary guidance. It was only fitting and proper, how- 
ever, that reluctance should be displayed, and Tzu Hsi’s 
reply to the Memorial therefore observed that “the perusal 
of this Memorial has greatly increased our grief and 
sorrowful recognition of the exigencies of the times, for 
we had hoped that the Regency was merely a temporary 


measure of unusual expediency. Be it known that so soon 
as the Emperor shall have completed his education, we 
shall immediately hand over to him the affairs of the 

The infant Emperor was understood to express “dutiful 
thanks to their Majesties for this virtuous act ” and all the 
formalities of the tragic comedy were thus completed. The 
Empress Dowager gave orders that the repairs which had 
been begun at the Lake and Summer Palaces should now be 
stopped, the reason given being that the Empresses Regent 
would have no time nor desire for gaiety in the years to 
come ; the real reason being, however, that the death of the 
Emperor removed all necessity for their Majesties leaving 
the Forbidden City. 

Tzu Hsi*s success in forcing her wishes upon the Grand 
Council and having her sister’s infant son appointed to the 
Imperial succession, in opposition to the wishes of a power- 
ful party and in violation of the dynastic law, was entirely 
due to her energy and influence. The charm of her person- 
alky, and the convincing directness of her methods were 
more effective than all tiie forces of tradition. This fact, 
and her triumph, become the more remarkable when we 
bear in mind that she had been advised, and the Grand 
Council was aware, that the infant Emperor suffered from 
physical weaknesses which, even at that date, rendered it 
extremely unlikely that he would ever provide an heir to 
the Throne. Those who criticised her selection, knowing 
this, would have been therefore in a strong position had 
they not been lacking in courage and decision, since it was 
clear, if the fact were admitted, that Her Majesty’s only 
possible motive was personal ambition. 

From that time until the death of the Emperor and her 
own, on the 14th and 15th November 1908, the belief was 
widespread, and not infrequently expressed, that the Em- 
peror, whose reign began thus inauspiciously, would not 
survive her, and there were many who predicted that his 
death would occur before the time came for him to assume 
supreme control of the Government. All foretold that Tzu 
Hsi would survive him, for the simple reason that only thus 


could she hope to regulate once more the succession and 
continue the Regency. The prophets of evil were wrong, 
as we know, inasmuch as Kuang-Hsu was allowed his 
years of grace in control of affairs, but we know also that 
after the coup d^iiat it was only the fear of an insurrection 
in the south that saved his life and prevented the accession 
of a new boy Emperor. 

The designation of the new reign was then ordered to be 
“Kuang-Hsii,” meaning “glorious succession’*; it was 
chosen to emphasise the fact that the new Emperor was 
a direct lineal descendant of the last great Manchu Em- 
peror, Tao-Kuang, and to suggest the hope that the evil 
days of Hsien-Feng and T’ung-Chih had come to an end. 
The next act of the Empresses Regent was to confer an 
honorific title upon the late Emperor’s widow; but the 
honour was not sufficient to prevent her from committing 
suicide on the 27th of March as an act of protest at the 
grievous wrong done to her, to the memory of her husband 
and to the claims of his posthumous heir. This was the 
unofficial explanation current, but opinions have always 
differed, and must continue to differ, as to the truth of the 
suicide, there being many who, not unnaturally, accused 
Tzu Hsi of putting an end to the unfortunate woman. 
Against this the Empress’s advocates observe that, having 
succeeded in obtaining the appointment of Kuang-Hsii to 
the Throne, and the matter being irrevocably settled, there 
existed no further necessity for any act of violence : but 
few, if any, suggest that had circumstances necessitated 
violent measures they would not have been taken. The 
balance of evidence is undoubtedly in the direction of foul 
play. But, however administered, it is certain that the 
death of the Empress A-lu-te influenced public opinion 
more profoundly than she could ever have done by living ; 
as a result, thousands of Memorials poured in from the 
Censorate and the provinces, strongly protesting against 
the selection of the infant son of Prince Ch’un for the 
Throne, as a violation of all ancestral custom and the tinte- 
honoured laws of succession. It is significant that all these 
protests were clearly directed against Tzu Hsi, her col- 


league’s nonentity being practically and generally recog- 
nised. For a time Tzii Hsi’s popularity (and therefore 
the position of the Yehonala clan) was seriously affected, 
and when, four years later, the Censor, Wu K’o-tu, com- 
mitted suicide near T’ung-Chih’s grave to emphasise the 
seriousness of the crime and to focus public attention on 
the matter, the Empress was compelled to bow to the storm 
and to give a second and more solemn pledge that the 
deceased Emperor should not permanently be left without 
heirs to perform for him the sacrifices of ancestral worship. 
It will be seen hereafter how she kept that pledge. 

Prince Ch’un, in the capacity of father to the new 
Emperor, submitted a Memorial asking leave to be per- 
mitted to resign his various offices, because, as an official, 
he would be bound to “kotow” to the Emperor, and as a 
father he could not “kotow ” to his own son. In the cause 
of this Memorial, which reminds the reader unpleasantly of 
Mr. Pecksniff, the Prince observes that when first informed 
of his son’s selection as heir to the Dragon Throne, “he 
almost fainted and knew not what to do. When borne to 
his home, his body was trembling and his heart palpitating 
severely ; like a madman, or one who walks in dreams, was 
he, so that he incurred a serious recurrence of his liver 
trouble and the state of his health became really a matter 
for anxiety. He would prefer that the silent tomb should 
close forthwith over his remains rather than to continue 
to draw the breath of life as the useless vson of the Emperor 

The Empress Dowager, in reply, directed her faithful 
Ministers to devise a careful compromise “based on the 
special requirements of the case,” the result of which was 
that Prince Ch’un was permitted to resign his offices and 
excused from attendance at all Court ceremonies involving 
obeisance to the Emperor, but was retained in a sort of 
general capacity as “adviser to the Empresses Regent” to 
serve when called upon. On the birthdays of the Em- 
presses Regent, he would be permitted to prostrate himself 
before them in private, and not as a member of the Court 
in attendance on the Emperor. His first class Princedom 


was made hereditary for ever, and he was commanded 
to give the benefit of his experience and sage counsel to 
his successor, Prince Tun, as officer commanding the 
Manchu Field Force — an order which he must have obeyed, 
for the Force in question became more and more notorious 
for its tatterdemalion uselessness and the corruption of its 

Remembering the institution of the first Regency, it will 
be noted how faithfully history here repeats itself. 



Immediately after the death of T’ung-Chih’s young 
widow, the validity of the Imperial succession and the 
violation of all traditions which Tzu Hsi had committed, 
became a matter of grave concern to the conservative and 
more conscientious supporters of the Dynasty. The first 
evidence of dissatisfaction was contained in a Memorial 
submitted by a Manchu sub-Chancellor of the Grand 
Secretariat who, while accepting the situation as it stood 
in regard to the boy Emperor, Kuang-Hsii, stipulated 
that safeguards or guarantees should be giyen by the 
Throne for the eventual regulation of the succession and 
for the provision of heirs to His orbate Majesty, T’ung- 

Tzu Hsi was becoming decidedly irritable on this subject 
of the succession, and there can be little doubt that her 
own conscience and the views of patriotic Memorialists 
came to much the same conclusion. The Rescript which 
she issued on the present occasion was short, sharp, and 
suggestive of temper : — 

“We have already issued an absolutely clear Decree on this 
subject,** she said, “providing for an heir to the late Emperor, 
and the Decree has been published all over the Empire. The 
Memorialist *s present request gives evidence of unspeakable 
audacity and an inveterate habit of fault-finding, which has 
greatly enraged us, so that we hereby convey to him a stern 

The Memorials and remonstrances of many high officials 
emphasised the seriousness of this question of the legi- 
timacy pf the Imperial succession to the nation at large, 
and its profound effect on the fundamental principles of 



ancestor worship. Nevertheless, having delivered their 
souls, the Mandarinate, led by the Peking Boards, were 
disposed to acquiesce in the fait accompli; in any case, 
there was no sign of organised opinion in opposition to 
the will of the Empress Dowager. The irregularity was 
evidently serious, and Heaven would doubtless visit the 
sins of the Throne, as usual, on the unoffending “ stupid 
people”; but the individualism and mutual suspicion, that 
peculiarly distinguish the Chinese official world, precluded 
all idea of concerted action or remedial measures. 

One official, however, had the full courage of his con- 
victions, and, by the time-honoured expedient of self- 
destruction, focussed the attention of the nation on the 
gravity of the question, as no amount of fine writing could 
have done. Resort to suicide by indignant patriots, as a 
proof of their sincere distress, is a practice praised and 
justified alike by historians in China and Japan, and there 
is no denying that, as an argument against all forms of 
despotism, it has the crowning merit of finality. It has, 
moreover, certain qualities of deliberate courage and 
cultured philosophy that bring irresistibly to mind the 
Roman patrician at his best, and which fully account for 
the distinction which such a death confers amongst a 
people that loves its orthodoxies, as it loves peace, 

The name which will go down in Chinese history, as the 
defender of the national and true faith in connection with 
the illegal succession of the infant Emperor Kuang-Hsii, 
is that of the Censor, Wu K’o-tu, an upright and fearless 
scholar of the best type. For the reasons stated in his 
farewell Memorial, he waited four years after. the death 
of the Emperor T’ung-Chih, hoping against hope that the 
wide-spread dissatisfaction of the literati and officials would 
take definite form, and lead the Empress Dowager to 
regulate the future succession, and to placate .the dis-» 
inherited ghost of T’ung-Chih, by the issue of a new 
Decree. Disappointed in this hope, he seized* the classic 
cally correct occasion of the late Emperor’s funeral (1879) 
to commit suicide near his grave, taking care to leave 


behind him a swan-song which, as he knew, will live long 
in the memory of scholars and officials throughout the 
Empire. His death had the immediate effect of convincing 
Tzii Hsi of error. Realising the strength of public opinion 
underlying the Censor’s protest, she endeavoured at once 
to placate his accusing spirit by giving the pledges for 
which he had pleaded, in regard to provision in the future 
of a successor to T’ung-Chih. Nor was it on this occasion 
only that the death of Wu K’o-tu influenced her actions 
and disturbed her superstitious mind. In after years, and 
especially at the time of the flight to Hsi-an, she recog- 
nised his influence, and the punishment of her misdeed, in 
the disasters which had overtaken the Throne. 

As an example of the principles of action, and the calm 
frame of mind which are the fine flower of the Confucian 
system of philosophy, and, therefore, worthy of our close 
and sympathetic study, we give the full story of the death 
of this patriotic protestant, as well as a translation of his 

His suicide took place in a small temple at Ma-shen 
ch’iao, close to the mausoleum of T’ung-Chih. His 
minutely detailed instructions for the disposal of his 
remains, with the least possible trouble to his family and 
friends, bespeak the gentleman and the scholar. To the 
priest in charge of the shrine, a “bad man,” he addressed 
the following characteristic letter: — 

“Priest Chou, be not afraid. I have no desire to bring evil 
upon you. I was compelled to borrow the use of your plot of 
hallowed ground, as a spot appropriate for the death of an honest 
man. Inform now the Magistrate at once, and see that the 
Memorial enclosed in my despatcdi box is forwarded without 
delay. Buy for me a cheap coffin and have it painted black 
inside. My clothes are all in order, only the leather soles of my 
boots require to be cut off before you lay me in my coffin. I 
have cut my finger slightly, which accounts for the blood stains 
that you may notice. Twenty taels will be ample for my coffin. 
I should not think that the Magistrate will need to hold an 
inquest. Please have a coating of lacquer put on the coffin, to 
fill up any cracks in the joints, and have it nailed down, pending 
the Empresses’ decision as to my remains. Then, buy a few 
feet of ground adjoining the late Emperor’s tomb, and have me 


buried quickly.^ There is no need for me to be buried in my 
ancestral cemetery; any spot is a good enough resting place 
for a loyal and honest man. 

“You will find forty-five taels in my box, of which you may 
keep the balance after paying for my coffin and burial expenses. 
As to my watch, and the other articles on my person, it is 
known at my home exactly what I brought here with me. You 
must see to it that no one is permitted to insult my corpse, and 
my son will be deeply grateful to you for performing these last 
offices for me, in his place. You need not fear that the Magis- 
trate’s underlings will make trouble for you, but be careful not 
to tamper with the box containing my Memorial to the 

“You can cut my body down to-morrow morning, and then 
have it placed in some cool and shady spot. Fearing that 
possibly you might come in by accident and find me hanging, 

I have taken a dose of opium, so as to make certain of death. 
If you should dare to meddle with my private affairs, as you 
have been trying to do these past few days, it will only lead to 
your being mixed up in the case, which might bring you to grief. 

"All I ask of you is that you notify the Magistrate at once, 
and that you do not allow women and children to come in and 
gaze upon my remains. There is nothing strange or abnormal 
here ; death had become an unavoidable duty. Those who under- 
stand me, will pity; that is all. The last earnest instructions 
of Wu K’o-tu.” 

Next, to his son, he expressed his dying wishes in a 
letter which embodies many of the Confucian scholar’s 
most cherished ideals and beliefs, a document pathetic in 
its simple dignity, its pride of ancient lineage and duty 
well done according to his lights. 

" Chih-huan, my son, be not alarmed when you hear the news 
of my death, and on no account allow your grief to disturb the 
family. Your mother is old, your wife is young, and my poor 
little grandchildren are but babies. Tell them that I am dead, 
but bid them not to grieve over my suicide. Our family tree 
goes back over five hundred years ; for two centuries there have 
been members of our clan among the Imperial concubines, and 
for three hundred years we have devoted ourselves to husbandry 
and scholarship. For eighteen generations our family has borne 
a good name; I, who am now seventy years of age, can •claim 
an unsullied record, although as a lad I was somewhat given to. 
dissipation. No man can truthfully accuse me of having failed 

The” burial place was close to, but necessarily outside, the large 
enclosed* park which contains the Imperial mausolea. 


to observe the main principles of duty, and it is for this reason 
that my friends and former pupils have always sought my 
services as a teacher of the Confucian doctrine. Quite recently 
I declined the pressing invitation of the Grand Secretary, the 
Marquis Tso Tsung-t*ang, who wished me to become tutor to 
his family, because the date was at hand for His late Majesty's 
burial, and I desired quietly to await to-day's event 

‘‘Ever since, at the age of twenty-four, I took my M.A. 
degree, I have been of prudent conduct, and have observed the 
proprieties in official life. In the study of history I have ever 
been deeply touched by examples of patriotism and loyalty to 
the Sovereign, and the splendid lives of the ancients have moved 
me, now to tears and again to exuberance of joy. 

“Upon the death of the late Emperor, I had determined to 
memorialise the Empresses Dowager, through the Censorate, 
and had fully made up my mind to accept my fate for so doing ; 
but an old friend, to whom 1 showed the draft, begged me not 
to forward it, not only because I had already been punished 
for similar rashness on a former occasion, but because he said 
some of its allusions to current events were not absolutely 
accurate. Therefore I waited until to-day, but now I can wait 
no longer. It is my wish to die, in order that the purpose of 
my life may be fittingly accomplished and a lifetime of loyalty 
consummated. My death is in no way due to the slanders 
which have been circulated about me. 

“When you receive this letter, come straightway to the 
Temple of the Threefold Duties at the bridge of the God of 
Horses, twelve miles to the east of Chi Chou and quite close 
to the Imperial mausolea. There seek out the Taoist priest, 
Chou; he knows my burial place, and I have asked him to buy 
me a coffin and to have it painted black inside. My burial 
clothes are all in order, but I have asked him to cut off the 
leather soles from my boots. ^ He is to buy a certain small 
piece of ground, close to the Imperial tomb, which is to be my 
grave. This will be far better than having my remains taken 
to the ancestral burial ground, and there is really no need for 
me to rest there, as my younger brother already lies beside your 
grandparents. He, you remember, committed suicide twenty 
years ago at his house in Peking, because of private troubles, 
and now I follow his example, because of disorder in the State. 
People will say, no doubt, that our family burial ground is 
become a place of evil omen, but pay no heed to them. No 
doubt you will desire to take home my remains, but do not so. 
Take instead my photograph, the one I had taken just before 
I left Peking, and have an enlargement of it hung up in our 

' Burial clothes should all be new and clean — by cutting away the 
soles, his boots would look less shabby. 


family liall. Thus shall you observe the old custom which 
preserves relics of the departed. Why go to the expense and 
trouble of transporting a coffin over a thousand miles? 

“Even though it should happen that the Empresses should 
cause dire penalties to be inflicted upon my corpse because of 
my effrontery of language, you may be sure that in this en- 
lightened age, there is no possibility of my offences being visited 
upon my wife and family. All you need to do is to borrow from 
our friends money enough to take you from Peking, and after 
that, you must make the best of your way to our family home, 
begging if necessary. On no account must you remain in 
Peking, for by so doing you will only attract attention and 
further endanger your father.^ 

“What I chiefly deprecate in you, my son, is your quick 
tongue ; you must really try to amend your ways in this respect 
and endeavour to be less hasty. If people tell you that your 
father was loyal, do not contradict them ; if they say he was an 
honest man, you should agree. Read carefully the advice of 
Ma Yuan, the great General, to his nephew, and Wang Hou’s 
admonitions to his sons. 

“When your mother married me she had good prospects, as 
the daughter or an old military family. Since her marriage 
she has dutifully served my parents, and her reputation for 
filial devotion is excellent. I regret that I was not destined to 
bring her happiness and good fortune : she is old now, and you 
alone are left to her. It is your duty to take her to our home 
and minister to her old age. 

“As regards the few poor acres of land left me by my father, 
I feel that I cannot reasonably expect you to follow the example 
of the ancient worthies and to surrender it all to your brothers, 
but at least I ask that you should allow them to live amicably 
with you. Your wife is a sensible woman — tell her from me 
that the happiness of every household depends on the temper of 
its womenfolk. I knew one woman who feigned death in order 
to induce her husband to treat his brothers more kindly, but 
this was a heroic act, far above the moral capacity of your wife, 

“ As to the forty taels ^ which you will find on my person, 
you will hand over to the Taoist priest, Chou, any balance there 
may remain after he has paid for my coffin and burial expenses. 
On arriving at Chi Chou, go at once and sec the Magistrate, to 
whom I have written ; thence proceed to the temple, where you 
must give them some extra money to compensate them for 
all the trouble they have had. Thereafter return to Peking, 
and there await the Empresses *s decision in regard to* my 

^ I.e. by causing the Empresses to have his corpse mutilated. 

“ About ;^io. 


“ See to it that my small debts are all paid, that my life may 
end in fitting and harmonious dignity. At a moment like this, 
I am naturally agitated in mind. It is hard to foretell what 
the decision of the Empresses may be, but at least my conscience 
is clear, and what does anything else matter? For your own 
personal safety, I do not think you need have any fear. 

“ Present my compliments to Chang Chih-tung : I only wish 
I could have had more of the old time talks with him. Go also 
to the Marquis Tso Tsung-t’ang. He has not treated me well 
of late, but slanders poisoned his sympathy, at which I do not 
wonder. The memory of his former kindnesses is precious to 
me, and I know that he will never let you starve. 

“Your wife, in giving birth to my grandchildren, has con- 
ferred blessings upon me ; you must never think of allowing her 
parents to provide for you. Leave therefore at once for our 
family home. There must be no delay about this. As to the 
Taoist priest, it irks me to make use of people in this way. 
He is a bad man ; yet must we bear with him. Tell him that I 
regret having put his temple to this purpose ; he need only spend 
ten taels on my coffin and a few taels more for the little plot 'of 
ground to bury me in. I am a worthless official and deserve 
nothing better than this. 

“Why have I delayed so long? Because I did not wish to 
disturb the Empresses with the news of my death at this critical 
time. All the Decrees which have appeared since the Emperor 
Kuang-Hsii came to the Throne have moved me greatly, and 
much have I deplored my inability to serve their Majesties 
better. In days of old, loyal servants of the State were wont 
to commit suicide as an act of remonstrance against the degen- 
eracy of their Sovereigns. Not for a moment are the Empresses 
to be compared to monarchs like Ming Huang of the T’ang 
Dynasty, who deserted his capital before the invader, or Li 
Tsung, of the Sungs, whose foolishness led to the Mongol wars. 
Nevertheless my death is due to the same principles as those 
which actuated those faithful Councillors. 

“Go home now, and teach your children to study. Do not 
open my Memorial to the Empresses. It is sealed, and I have 
asked the local Magistrate to forward it for presentation.” 

His Memorial to the Throne was, in fact (as the letter to 
his son plainly indicates), an indictment of the degeneracy 
of the ruler of the Empire; incidentally, it throws much 
light on the orthodox point of view in regard to the ques- 
tion of the Imperial succession. Its preamble sets forth the 
object with which it was written, and in the hope of which 
the writer died, namely, to induce the Empress Dowager 


to determine the future succession, providing an heir to the 
Emperor T*ung-Chih, in accordance with precedent and 
the laws of the Dynasty. The text of this remarkable 
document is as follows : — 

** I, your worthless servant, have heard that the fact of a 
nation being well governed does not necessarily preclude all 
possibility of anarchy, nor does a nation at peace dismiss alto- 
gether from mind the chances of violent disturbance; should 
anarchy and rebellion be regarded as possibilities too remote 
to merit a thought, it were idle and superfluous to advise the 
Sovereign of so perfect a State. To ask the Imperial wisdom 
to see danger where no real peril exists would be simply inviting 
evil omens. 

“On a former occasion I, your guilty servant, wittingly 
incurred danger of death or imprisonment, because, in the heat 
of indignation, I dared to remonstrate with the Throne. At 
that time the Princes and Ministers about your Throne asked 
permission to subject me to a criminal enquiry, but His late 
Majesty T’ung-Chih was pleased to spare me, so that I neither 
suffered death by the headsman's sword nor imprisonment, nor 
did I run the risk of further exciting the Imperial wrath by my 
evidence before a criminal court. Thrice have I deserved, 
without receiving, the penalty of death. Without desiring my 
forfeit life, it was granted me, so that my last few years have 
been, as it were, a boon at the hands of His late Majesty. 

“But on the 5th day of the 12th Moon of the 13th year of 
T*ung-Chih the earth was rent and heaven itself was shaken by 
the great catastrophe, and on that day their Majesties the 
Empresses Dowager issued the following Decree : ‘ The departed 
Emperor has mounted the Dragon and is become a guest on 
high, leaving no heir to the Throne. We are compelled to 
appoint Tsai T’ien, son of Prince Ch’un, to be heir to His 
Majesty Hsien-Feng, to enter on the great inheritance as the 
new Emperor. When to him an heir shall be born, he shall 
become son by adoption to the late Emperor T’ung-Chih.’ 

“ I, your unworthy servant, wept bitterly as, reverently kneel- 
ing, I read this Decree. I cannot but feel, after most careful 
consideration, that the Empresses Dowager have doubly erred 
in appointing an heir to the Emperor Hsien-Fcng and not to His 
late Majesty. For thus the new Emperor, being heir to His 
Majesty Hsien-Feng, enters upon the great heritage not, as he 
should, by mandate of His late Majesty T’ung-Chih, "but by 
mandate of the Empresses. Hence the future suceessioti must, 
as a matter of course, revert to the heir of the new Emperor, 
even though there should be no explicit instructions to that effect. 
But, as this Decree expressly ordains that this shall be so, it 


follows that a precedent will be established, whereby the great 
inheritance may pass by adoption. 

“ I, your unworthy servant, realise that it is no light matter 
for a loyal subject to refer to the future death of a Sovereign 
while that Sovereign is still alive, entitled to all his reverence 
and devotion. But, for more than two centuries, the ancestral 
tradition of our House-law has been observed that the Throne 
shall pass from father to son, and this law should be steadfastly 
maintained for ten thousand generations amongst those of us 
who recognise a common descent. Moreover, Prince Ch^un is 
a loyal statesman, justly revered by all as a virtuous Prince. 
His Memorial has inspired everyone of us with fresh feelings 
of enthusiastic loyalty. His words are but the mirror of his 
mind; how could any falseness find therein a place? When I 
perused his Memorial, tears of joy irrepressible fell from my eyes. 
If ever the Prince should learn of this my humble Memorial, 
he may perchance be wroth at my perversity or pity my folly; 
at all events he will never blame me for endeavouring to stir up 
vain strife by my words. 

“The new Emperor is of gentle disposition; from the Empress 
Dowager he had received the ‘ precious inheritance ’ and until 
his dying day he will naturally be of one mind with the Empresses 
in this matter. But in the Palace there are sycophants as well 
as honest men, and many conflicting opinions. To take 
examples from history : at the beginning of the Sung Dynasty, 
even that great and good man the Grand Secretary Chao P’u, 
led the way in obeying the orders of the Empress Dowager Tu. 
Again, under the Ming Dynasty, a venerable servant of the 
State, the Grand Secretary Wang Chih, was ashamed that it 
should be left to a barbarian like Huang Rung (native of an 
aboriginal tribe in Kuangsi) to memorialise urging the lawful 
Heir Apparent’s succession to the Emperor Ching-T’ai, when 
no Chinese official dared to do so. If even virtuous men could 
act thus what need to enquire about disloyal subjects? If such 
be the conduct of old servants, how shall we blame upstarts? 
To set aside settled ordinances may be bad, but how much 
worse is our case where no ordinances exist? We should 
therefore seek if perchance we may find some way out of this 
double error, whereby we may return to the right way. I 
therefore beg that the Empresses may be pleased to issue a 
second Decree explicitly stating that the great inheritance shall 
hereafter revert to the adopted son of His late Majesty T’ung- 
Chih, and that no Minister shall be allowed to upset this Decree, 
even though the new Emperor be blessed with a hundred sons. 
If, in this way, the succession be rectified and the situation 
defined, so that further confusion be hereafter impossible, the 
House-law of the present Dynasty will be observed, which 


requires that the Throne be handed down from father to son. 
Thus, to the late Emperor, now childless, an heir will be pro- 
vided and the Empresses Dowager will no longer be without 
a grandson. ‘And, for all time, the orderly maintenance of the 
succession will be ascribed to the Empresses, whose fame will 
be changeless and unending. This is what I, your guilty 
servant, mean, when I say that the double error which has been 
committed may yet serve to bring us back to the right w^ay. 

“ I, your most unworthy slave, had intended to memorialise 
on this matter when His Majesty died, and to present the 
Memorial through the Censorate. But it occurred to me that, 
since I had lost my post, I was debarred from addressing the 
Throne. Besides, how grave a matter is this I If advice in 
such a matter be given by a Prince or a Minister, it is called the 
sage and far-reaching counsel of a statesman ; but if it comes 
from a small and insignificant official it is called the idle utterance 
of a wanton babbler. Never could I have believed that the 
many wise and loyal statesmen of your Court could one and 
all regard this as a matter of no immediate urgency, dismissing it 
as a question unprofitable for discussion. I waited, therefore, 
and the precious moments passed, but none of them have moved 
in the matter. 

“Afterwards, having received renewed marks of the Imperial 
favour, and being again summoned to audience, 1 was granted 
the position of a Board Secretary, and placed on the Board of 
Appointments. This was more than four years ago; yet all 
this time apparently not one of all the Ministers of your Court 
has even given this grave matter a moment’s consideration. 
The day for His late Majesty’s entombment has now arrived, 
and I fear that what has happened will gradually pass from the 
minds of men. The time, therefore, is short, and the reasons 
which led me to delay hold good no longer. Looking upward, 
as the divine soul of His Majesty soars heavenward on the 
Dragon, wistfully I turn my eyes upon the Palace enclosure. 
Beholding the bows and arrows left behind on the Bridge Moun- 
tain,^ my thoughts turn to the cherished mementoes of my 
Sovereign. Humbly I offer up these years of life that have 
been added unto me by His Majesty’s clemency; humbly I lay 
them down in propitiation of the Empresses Dow^ager, to im- 
plore from them a brief Decree on behalf of the late Emperor. 

“ But, on the point of leaving this world, I feel that my mind 
is confused. The text of this, my Memorial, lacks clearness; 
there are manifold omissions in it. It has ever been my custom 
to revise a draft twice before handing in a Memorial, But on 
this occasion I have not been able to make such earful revision.* 
I, your unworthy servant,. am no scholar like to the men of old; 

i The point whence, according to legend, the Yellow Emperor ascended 
to heaven and where his clothes were buried. 


how, then, could 1 be calm and cpllected as they were wont to 
be? Once there went a man to his death, and he could not 
walk erect. A bystander said to him ‘Are you afraid, sir?* 
He replied, ‘ I am.* ‘ If you are afraid, why not turn back? * 
He replied, ‘ My fear is a private weakness ; my death is a 
public duty.’ This is the condition in which I find myself 
to-day. ‘ When a bird is dying its song is sad. When a man 
is dying his words are good.’ ^ How could I, your worthless 
servant, dare to compare myself with the sage Tseng Tzu? 
Though I am about to die, yet may my words not be good ; but 
I trust that the Empresses and the Emperor will pity my last 
sad utterance, regarding it neither as an evil omen nor the idle 
plaint of one who has no real cause for grief. Thus shall I die 
without regret. A statesman of the Sung Dynasty has re- 
marked : ‘ To discuss an event before it occurs is foolhardy. 
But if one waits until is has occurred, speech is then too late, 
and, therefore, superfluous.’ Foolhardiness notwithstanding, 
it is well that the Throne should be 'Cvarned before events occur ; 
no Minister should ever have to reproach himself with having 
spoken too late. Heartily do I wish that my words may prove 
untrue, so that posterity may laugh at my folly. I do not desire 
that my words may be verified, for posterity to acclaim my 
wisdom. May it be my fate to resemble Tu Mu,^ even though 
to imitate him be a transgression of duty. May I be likened, 
rather, to Shih Ch’iu, the sight of whose dead body proved, as 
he had hoped, an effective rebuke to his erring Prince. Thus 
may my foolish but loyal words be justified in the end. 

“ I pray the Empresses and Emperor to remember the example 
of Their Majesties Shun-Chih and K’ang-Hsi, in tempering 
justice with mercy : that they may promote peace and prosperity^ 
by appointing only worthy men to public offices ; that they may 
refrain from striving for those objects which foreigners hold 
dear, for by such striving they will surely jeopardise the future 
of our Middle Kingdom ; that they may never initiate any of the 
innovations disdained by their ancestors, which would assuredly 
leave to posterity a heritage of woe. These are my last words, 
my last prayer, the end and crown of my life. 

“ Postscript. 

“Having been a Censor, I venture thus to memorialise the 
Throne. But as my present official position does not permit of 

^ A quotation from Tseng Tzu, one of the most noted disciples of 

* A sort of Chinese Malaprop, known to history as one who invariably 
spoke at the wrong time. 


my forwarding this direct, I request the high officials of my 
Board to present it for me. As my name did not figure origin- 
ally in the list of officials to represent my Board at the ceremonies 
preparatory to His late Majesty’s burial, I begged the Grand 
Secretary Pao Yiin to allow me to be included in the list. Pao 
Yiin could not have foretold my suicide, so that no blame can 
attach to him for being my sponsor. Under our enlightened 
Dynasty, how could anyone imagine a return to the ancient 
and happily obsolete practice of being buried alive with one’s 
Sovereign? But my grief is too great and cannot be restrained ; 
for to-day my Sovereign returns, dragon-borne, to Heaven, and 
all the world weeps with me in woe unutterable. 

** I have respectfully but fully explained my feelings in this 
question of the lawful succession to the Throne, and now, under 
the title of your guilty servant, I present this my Memorial.” 



'Fhe days of mourning for T’ung-Chih being done, his 
remains disposed of as auspiciously as the Court of Astro- 
nomers could desire, and his ghost placated, thanks to 
Wu K*o-tu, by solemn promises on the part of his mother 
to provide him with a suitable and legitimate heir in due 
season, life in the Forbidden City settled down once more 
into the old grooves under the joint Regency of the 
Empresses of the Eastern and Western Palaces. 

But before long the new Emperor, a nervous and delicate 
boy, became, all unconsciously, a thorn in the side of the 
woman who put him on the Throne. As he passed from 
infancy to boyhood, it was a matter of common knowledge 
and report in the Palace that he showed a marked prefer- 
ence for the Empress Tzu An, who, by her kind and 
sympathetic treatment, had won the child's heart. In the 
innocence of his lonely youth he frequented therefore the 
Eastern Palace, while Tzu Hsi, whose pride could brook 
no rivals, even in the heart of a child, was compelled to 
look on, and to realise that the forming of the future ruler’s 
mind was in the hands of another woman. There were 
not lacking those who told her that her colleague, secretly 
and with ulterior motives, encouraged the boy to oppose 
and displease her. Under these conditions, it was inevit- 
able that the young Emperor should gradually become a 
cause of increasing jealousy and friction between the two 

TzQ Hsi undoubtedly resented the boy’s predilection; 
as much as her colleague’s action in encouraging it. At 
Cotirti Where everyone and everything is a potential instru- 
ment for intrigue and party faction, the young Emperor’s 
attitude could not fail to cause her grave concern. She 



Imkrior of thk I Kttn 

Tzu llhi lived i- ihe-e Apartments for s .mc- time after the death of T'lmg Chih, 



was well aware that Tzu An could never become, of herself, 
a formidable rival, but should she hereafter enjoy the 
Emperor’s confidence and support, and instigate him to 
become the centre of a faction against her (which he did), 
there might be danger in the situation for herself. As 
the Emperor’s minority approached its end, it therefore 
became the more necessary for her to take all possible 
precautions. She had no intention of sharing the fate of 
that Empress Consort of Ch’ien Lung who was banished 
to the “Cold Palace” and whose honours and titles were 
taken from her on charges of “wild extravagance, love of 
the theatre and insubordination to the Emperor’s mother.” 

A further cause of friction occurred between the two 
Empresses Regent on the occasion of the Imperial progress 
to the Eastern tombs, in 1880, when the boy Emperor was 
nine years old. On this occasion, Tzu An, evidently 
prompted by Prince Rung to assert herself and her rights, 
insisted on taking precedence in all the ceremonies of the 
ancestral sacrifices at the Imperial Mausolea and at the 
prostrations which custom decrees shall be made before 
each of the “Jewelled Cities,” as the mounds are called 
which cover the Imperial grave chambers. When Their 
Majesties arrived at the grave of Hsien-Feng, there was 
serious friction, Tzu An, as the senior Consort of the 
deceased monarch, claimed as her right the central posi- 
tion, at the same time relegating her colleague to the place 
on her right, leaving the place of honour on the left un- 
occupied. Not content with this, Tzii An went on to 
remind her Co-Regent that, where sacrifices to Hsien- 
Feng were in question, Tzu Hsi was entitled only to claim 
precedence as a senior concubine, her elevation to the 
position of Empress Mother having taken place after his 
decease. As a concubine, etiquette required her, during 
the sacrifice, to take a position on one side and slightly 
in the rear, while the vacant place of honour to,TzQ An*s 
left belonged to the shade of Hsien-Feng’s first consort, 
who had died before his accession, but had been post- 
humously raised to the rank of Senior Empress. Tzfi Hsi, 
realising that this indignity was put upon her at the 


instigation of Prince Kung and the Princes of the Imperial 
family, had no intention of submitting, and peremptorily 
insisted upon taking the position to which her actual rank 
and authority entitled her. The quarrel was sharp but 
short. Tzu Hsi, as might have been expected, carried the 
day, but she felt that such a scene before the ancestral 
tombs, witnessed by a large entourage, was semi-sacri- 
legious and from every point of view unseemly. She had 
been made to lose face by the incident — clearly premedi- 
tated — ^and the fact had immediate effect upon her sub- 
sequent actions and her relations with her colleague,^ 

At the time of this progress to the tombs, Jung Lu was 
in command of the Metropolitan Gendarmerie, entrusted 
with the duty of escorting Their Majesties. Shortly after 
their return to Peking, however, he incurred her sharp 
displeasure by reason of conduct which Tzu Hsi was not 
likely to overlook, even in her chief favourite. Ever since 
the Jehol days of the Tsai Yiian conspiracy, and particu- 
larly during the crisis that followed the death of T’ung- 
Chih, this powerful Manchu had enjoyed her favour and 
confidence in an unusual degree, and as Comptroller of her 
Household, he had the right of entree to the Forbidden 
City at all times. But in 1880, suffering no doubt from 
ennui induced by the inactivity of Court life, he committed 
the indiscretion of an intrigue with one of the ladies of the 
late Emperor’s seraglio. Information of the scandal was 
laid before Her Majesty by the Imperial tutor Weng 
T’ung-ho, between whom and Jung Lu there was never 
love lost. It was commonly rumoured at Court, after the 
event, that Tzu Hsi, leaving nothing to chance, had herself 
discovered the culprit in the women’s quarters of the 
Palace, a heinous offence. Be this as it may, Jung Lu 

^ It is curious to note how frequently the Imperial tombs have been the 
scene of such unseemly wrangles, wherein grievances and passions, long 
pent up within the Palace precincts, find utterance. A case of this kind 
occurred in 1909, on the occasion of the burial of Tzu Hsi, when the sur- 
viving consorts of T’ung-Chih and Kuang-Hsii, having quarrelled with 
the new Empress Dowager (Lung Yu) on a similar question of precedence, 
refused to return to the City and remained in dudgeon at the tombs until 
a special mission, under an Imperial Duke, was sent humbly to beg them 
to come back, to the no small scandal of the orthodox. 



was summarily, though quietly, deprived of all his posts, 
and for the next severl years he lived in retirement. In 
this case Tzu Hsi vindicated her pride at the expense of 
her own comfort and sense of security, and it was not long 
before she had reason to regret the absence of her most 
loyal and trusty adviser. Amongst her courtiers she found 
none to replace him ; she missed his wise counsel, courage 
and fidelity. But having once committed herself to the 
step of dismissing him, she was unwilling to lose face with 
him and with her Court by changing her mind. His 
removal, however, undoubtedly led to increased friction 
between herself and Tzu An, whom she suspected of being 
a party to Jung Lu’s liaison. 

Finally, in March 1881, a serious quarrel took place 
between the two Empresses, on the subject of the influence 
which the Chief Eunuch Li Lien-ying had come to exercise, 
and the arrogance of his manner. Tzu An complained that 
this favourite and confidential servant of her colleague 
ignored her, setting her authority at nought, so that she 
was mocked even by her own subordinates. She deplored 
and denounced the existing state of affairs, commenting 
unpleasantly on the notorious fact that the eunuch was 
openly known by the title of “Lord of nine thousand,^^ 
years,” a title which implied that he was but one degree 
lower than the Emperor (“Lord of ten thousand years”) and 
entitled to something approximating to Imperial honours.^ 

The quarrel on this occasion was exceedingly bitter, nor 
was any reconciliation subsequently effected between the 
Empresses. It is very generally believed, and was freely 
stated at the time, that, incensed beyond measure and 
impatient of any further interference with her authority, 
Tzu Hsi brought about the death of her colleague, which 
was commonly attributed to poison. In the atmosphere of 
an Oriental Court such charges ar^s inevitable as they are 
incapable of proof or disproof, a(id were it not for the 

^ This title was originally given to an infamous eunuch of the Court of 
the Ming Emperor Chu Yii hsiao, who, because of his influence pver 
his dissolute master, was canonised by the latter after his death. The 
same title was claimed and used by the Eunuch An Te-hai, vtde supra^ 
p, 58. 


unfortunate fact that those who stood in the way of Tzfl 
Hsi’s ambitions, or who incurred her displeasure, fre- 
quently failed to survive it, we should be justified in refus- 
ing to attach importance to the imputations of foul play 
raised on this and other occasions. But these occasions 
are too numerous to be entirely overlooked or regarded as 
simple coincidences. In the present instance, the Empress 
Tzu An fell ill of a sudden and mysterious sickness, and, 
in the words of the Imperial Decree, she “ascended the 
fairy chariot for her distant journey” on the evening of 
the loth day of the 3rd Moon. In accordance with pre- 
scribed custom, she drafted just before her decease a vale- 
dictory Decree which, as will be observed, touches hardly 
at all on the political questions of the day. These, even 
at the moment of her death, she appeared to leave, as by 
established right, to her strong-minded colleague. After 
referring to her position as Senior Consort of the Em- 
peror Hsien-Feng, and recording the fact that during his 
minority the young Emperor had done justice to his 
education (in which she had always been much interested), 
the Edict proceeds as follows: — 

“ In spite of the arduous duties of the State, which have fully 
^occupied my time, I was naturally of robust constitution and 
had therefore fully expected to attain to a good old age and to 
enjoy the Emperor’s dutiful ministrations. Yesterday, however, 
I was suddenly stricken with a slight illness and His Majesty 
thereupon commanded his physician to attend me ; later His 
Majesty came in person to enquire as to my health. Ai.d now, 
most unexpectedly, I have had a most dangerous relapse. At 
7 p.M. this evening I became completely confused in mind and 
now all hope of my recovery appears to be vain. I am forty-five 
years of age and for close on twenty years have held the high 
position of a Regent of the Empire. Many honorific titles and 
ceremonies of congratulation have been bestowed upon me : 
what cause have I therefore for regret? ” 

At her request, and with that modesty which custom 
prescribes, the period of Imperial mourning was reduced 
from twenty-seven months to twenty-seven days. There 
is a human touch in the conclusion of this Decree which 
seems to preclude the conclusion that TzO Hsi had any 


hand in its drafting, for it describes Tzu An as having 
been careful to “set a good example of thrift and sobriety 
in the Palace* and to have steadily discountenanced all 
pomp and vain display in her share of the Court cere- 
monies/’ As most of the charges levelled for many years 
against Tzu Hsi by Censors and other high officials re- 
ferred to her notorious extravagance, this, and Tzu An*s 
last request for a modest funeral as the fitting conclusion 
to a modest life, were a palpable hit. 

Tzu An was dead. The playmate of her youth, the girl 
who had faced with her the solemn mysteries of the For- 
bidden City, the woman who later, because of her failure 
to provide an heir to the Throne, had effaced herself in 
favour of the Empress Mother, her poor-spirited rival of 
many years — Tzu An would trouble her no more. Hence- 
forth, without usurpation of authority, Tzu Hsi was free to 
direct the ship of State alone, sole Regent of the Empire. 

And with the death of her colleague came the desire to 
be free from the restraints of advice given by prescriptive 
right of long-standing authority, the ambition to be the 
only and undisputed controller of the nation’s destinies, and 
acknowledged Head of the State. For many years — in 
fact, since the decapitation of her favourite eunuch. An 
Te-hai, by Prince Rung ^ and her Co-Regent — she had 
been on bad terms with that Prince, and jealous of his 
influence and well-earned reputation for statesmanship. 
The manner in which, years before, she had taken from 
him his title of Adviser to the Government has already 
been described. Unable to dispense with his services, 
desirous of profiting by his ripe experience, especially in 
foreign affairs, she had borne with her Prime Minister 
grudgingly and of necessity. In 1884, however, she felt 
strong enough to stand alone, and the war with France 
(caused by the dispute as to China’s claims to suzerainty 
over Tongking) gave her an opportunity and an excuse 
for getting rid at one stroke of Prince Kung and^his 
colleagues of the Grand Council. 

The immediate pretext for their dismissal was fhe 
^ See above, p. 60, 


destruction of the Chinese fleet of junks by the French in 
the Min River, but Her Majesty’s real reason was that 
she believed that the Prince was intriguing against her 
with the young Emperor, and that he was to some extent 
responsible for a recent Memorial, in which several Censors 
had roundly denounced her for depraved morals and 
boundless extravagance. 

Prince Kung accordingly retired from the scene, to 
remain in unemployed obscurity until 1894, when, after 
the first disasters of the war with Japan, Tzu Hsi, older 
and wiser, turned to him once more for assistance. He 
never completely regained the influence with the Empress 
which he had enjoyed in the earlier days of the first 
Regency, but after his return to office until his death in 
1898, his prestige, especially among foreigners, was great. 
Tzu Hsi, though she loved him not, was forced to admit 
that he had accepted and borne his degradation with 

After the issue of the above Decree, Prince Kung was 
succeeded in office by Prince Li, the head of the eight 
Princely families and a descendant of a younger son of 
Nurhachi. With him were associated on the Grand 
Council, amongst others, the elder brother of Chang Chih- 
tung and Sun Yu-wen.^ The latter was a bitter enemy 
of the Imperial Tutor, Weng T’ung-ho. In appointing 
him to the Council, Tzu Hsi followed her favourite tactics 
of creating dissension among her advisers and maintaining 
the equilibrium of her own authority as the resultant of 
their conflicting forces. 

Her Majesty’s next step aroused a storm of opposition 
and criticism. She decreed that in all matters of urgency, 
the Grand Council, before advising the Throne, should 
confer with the Emperor’s father. Prince Ch’un, but added 
that upon the Emperor’s attaining his majority, she would 

^ Sun remained in high favour until December 1894, when the Emperor 
was induced by Weng T'ung-ho to dismiss him. At that time the 
Empress was taking little active part in the direction of affairs, occupy- 
ng her time with theatricals and other diversions at the Summer Palace, 
and playing a watching game in politics, so that for a while Sun’s life 
was in real danger. 



issue further instructions on this subject. This was not 
only an entirely new and irregular departure, since it made 
the Emperor^’s father de facto head of the executive, but 
it implied the possibility of violation of the solemn pledges 
given to the nation in 1875, as to the provision of an heir to 
the Emperor T*ung-Chih. Fears were once more aroused 
in an acute form that Prince Ch’un might hereafter per- 
suade his son to ignore the ancestral claims of the late 
Emperor, and thus constitute the house of Ch*un founders 
of a new line. The Prince would have great inducement 
to adopt this policy, as it would confer upon him and upon 
his wife {Tzu Hsi’s sister) Imperial rank during their lives 
and Imperial honours after their death. The reign of 
T’ung-Chih would in that case be practically expunged, 
going down to posterity dishonoured as the ignominious 
end of the senior branch of the Ta Ching Dynasty, and 
the Yehonala clan would become of paramount influence. 
A wide field would thus be left for future dissensions, 
treasons, stratagems and Court intrigues. In fact the 
position thus created would be somewhat similar to that 
which arose from the rivalry of the Houses of York and 
Lancaster in English history. 

An Imperial Clansman, named Sheng Yii, and other 
scholars, memorialised in the most urgent terms praying 
the Empress to cancel this appointment and suggesting 
that if Prince Ch’un’s advice were really needed, it should 
be given to herself direct and not to the Grand Council. 

To these remonstrances Tzu Hsi replied: — 

“There is no doubt that the sage decisions of former Em- 
perors deserve to be treated with every consideration and respect, 
but it is to be observed that, ever since I assumed the Regency, 
I have been by circumstances compelled to confer regularly on 
confidential business with a Prince of the Blood. You must 
all be aware that this situation has been forced upon me owing 
to the exigencies of the times, and was none of my seeking. 
The Decree in which, some days ago, I appointed Printe Ch^un 
to be Adviser to the Council, had no reference to orSinary 
routine business, with which he has no concern, /but only to* 
urgent matters of State. I had not, and have not, any intention 
of giving him a definite appointment, and he himself was most 
reluctant to accept at my hands, even this advisory position ; it 


was because of his repeated entreaties that I promised to issue 
further instructions in the matter upon the Emperor’s reaching 
his majority. The present arrangement is of a purely tem- 
porary nature. You cannot possibly realise how great and 
numerous are the problems with which I have to deal single- 
handed. As to the Grand Council, let them beware of making 
Prince Ch’un’s position an excuse for shirking their responsi- 
bilities. In conclusion, I wish that my Ministers would for the 
future pay more respect to the motives which animate their 
Sovereign’s actions, and abstain from troubling me with their 
querulous criticisms. The Memorialists’ requests are hereby 

Rescripts of this kind are curiously suggestive of Queen 
Elizabeth, and her manner of dealing with similar petitions 
from her loyal and dutiful subjects. 



In 1887 Kuang-Hsii completed his seventeenth year, and 
Tzu Hsi saw herself confronted by the necessity of sur- 
rendering to him the outward and visible signs of 
sovereignty. The change was naturally viewed with appre- 
hension by those of her courtiers and kinsmen who for 
the last ten years had basked in the sunshine of her un- 
fettered authority and patronage, whose places and privi- 
leges might well be endangered by a new regime. When, 
therefore, as in duty bound, she expressed a desire to retire 
from public life, it was not surprising that urgent petitions 
and remonstrances poured in, begging her to continue 
yet a little while in control of affairs, nor that she should 
finally allow herself to be persuaded. It was not until 
February 1889 that she definitely handed over the reins 
of government to the Emperor, on the occasion of his 
marriage to the daughter of her brother, Duke Kuei 

Tzu Hsi was now fifty-five years of age. P'or nearly 
thirty years she had been de facto ruler of the Celestial 
Empire. She had tasted the sweets of autocracy, had 
satisfied all her instincts of dominion, and it seemed as if 
she were not unwilling to enjoy the fruit of her labours and 
to exchange the formal routine of the Forbidden City for 
the pleasures and comparative freedom of life at the 
Summer Palace, which was now in course of reconstruc- 
tion. Always avid of movement and change, weary of the 
increasing toil of audiences and Rescripts, apprehensive, 
too, of the steadily increasing pressure of the earth-hungry 
Powers on China’s frontiers, she could not fail to be 
attracted by the prospect of a life of gilded leisure and 
recreation. Nor could she have remained on the Throne, 



Kuang-Hsii being alive, without an overt and flagrant act 
of usurpation for which, until he had been tried and found 
wanting, there was no possible justification. Certain 
writers, foreign and Chinese, have imputed to her at this 
period a policy of reculer pour mieux sautery suggesting 
that her hand, though hidden, was never really withdrawn 
from the affairs of the Forbidden City. To some extent the 
suggestion is justifiable; but Tzu Hsi’s retirement in the 
I-Ho Yuan lasted, roughly speaking, for ten years, during 
a considerable portion of which period she undoubtedly 
ceased to concern herself with affairs of State, other than 
those which directly affected the replenishing of her privy 

But while divesting herself of the outward and visible 
signs of rulership, Tzu Hsi had no intention of becoming 
a negligible quantity, or of losing touch with current 
events. From her luxurious retreat at the foot of the hills 
which shelter Peking, she could keep close watch on the 
doings of the Emperor, and protect the interests of her 
personal adherents in the capital and the provinces. Her 
power of appointing and dismissing officials, which drew 
much of its inspiration from the Chief Eunuch, was never 

In marrying the Emperor to her favourite niece, Tzii Hsi 
intended to avoid a repetition of the mistake which she had 
committed in the case of her son, the Emperor T’ung- 
Chih, whose marriage with the virtuous and courageous 
A4u-te had resulted in dangerous intrigues against herself, 
until death had removed the offenders. Warned by this 
experience, she made her selection in the present instance 
less with a view to the Emperor’s felicity than to the 
furtherance of her own purposes, which necessitated the 
presence by his side of someone who would watch over, 
and report on, his proceedings and proclivities. This part 
her niece played to perfection. In appearance she was 
unattractive, and in disposition and temper unsympathetic, 
but she possessed a considerable share of the Yehonala 
intelligence and strength of will. From the very first she 
was on bad terms with the Emperor. It was no secret at 
Court that they indulged in fierce and protracted quarrels. 

tzt) HSI ‘EN RETRAITE’ iii 

in which the young Empress generally came off victorious. 
As a natural result, Kuang-Hsii developed and showed a 
marked preference for the society of his two senior concu- 
bines, known respectively as the “ Pearl ** and “ Lustrous ** 

' Upon the Emperor’s assumption of rulership, there was 
shown a strong feeling amongst the senior members of 
the Yehonala clan that the opportunity should be taken to 
consolidate its position and power by conferring on the 
Emperor’s father rank in the hierarchy higher than that 
which he had hitherto held, with a view to his ultimate 
canonisation as Emperor. The manner in which this pro- 
posal was put forward, and Tzu Hsi’s refusal to act upon 
it — while giving all possible “face” to Prince Ch’un — 
threw much light upon some of the undercurrents of 
China’s dynastic affairs which are so difficult for Europeans 
to follow. 

Shortly after Tzu Hsi’s retirement from public affairs 
the Emperor’s father, Prince Ch’un, fell ill of a sickness 
which increased until, on ist January 1891, he died. In 
1890 the Censorate, deeply concerned for a strict observ- 
ance of the laws and ceremonial etiquette of filial piety, 
look occasion, in a Memorial of remonstrance, to draw 
Her Majesty’s attention to her duty, and that of the 
Emperor, of visiting the invalid. Tzu Hsi’s reply took 
the form of a rebuke to the Censors, whom she bluntly 
directed to mind their own business, in a manner which 
forcibly brings to mind Queen Elizabeth’s methods of 
dealing with similar remonstrances. Nevertheless she took 
the hint and thenceforward, throughout the summer of 
1890, she paid repeated visits to Prince Ch’un ’§ bedside. 

This Prince had always been a favourite with Tzu Hsi, 
who greatly preferred him to his elder brothers; she re- 
gretted his death and felt the loss of his wise and fearless 
counsel, which had often guided her policy. He was a 
staunch Manchu, jealous of the power and privileges of 
the Clans, and will long be remembered in Chinese history 
for the remark which he made at a meeting of the Council 
after the campaign in Tongking. “It were better,” said 
he, “to hand over the Empire to the foreign devils, than 


to surrender it at the dictation of these Chinese rebels/* 
a remark which was prompted by the growing discontent 
of the province of Canton against the Manchus and their 

In her Decree recording the Prince’s death and praising 
his eminent services as Chamberlain of the Palace, Head 
of the Navy ^ and Commander of the Manchu Field Force, 
Tzu Hsi gave detailed instructions for the mourning and 
funeral ceremonies, presenting in her own name a Tibetan 
prayer coverlet for the body. She conferred upon him the 
somewhat obvious (but according to Chinese ideas, highly 
honourable) title of “deceased father of the Emperor” and 
ordered that the funeral should be upon a scale “which 
shall simultaneously display His Majesty’s favour and 
his sense of filial piety,” due care being taken at the same 
time not to outrage the deceased’s conspicuous modesty. 
By these means, which were in accordance with her guid- 
ing principle of the “happy mean,” she hoped to set at 
rest all question of “usurping tendencies” and to reassure 
the Aisin Gioros as to their fears of the undue ambition of 
the house of Ch’un. Finally, in accordance with the pre- 
cedent established by the Emperor Ch’ien-Lung, she 
decreed that the late Prince’s residence should be divided 
into two portions, one to be set aside as his own ancestral 
Hall and the other as a shrine (it being the birthplace) 
of His Majesty Kuang-Hsii, 

In 1894 the Empress Dowager reached her sixtieth year, 
which, according to Chinese ideas, is an event calling for 
special thanksgiving and honour. Secure in her great and 
increasing popularity, safely entrenched in her prestige and 
influence, the Old Buddha had expected to devote her 
leisure at the Summer Palace to preparations for celebrat- 
ing this anniversary on a scale of unparalleled magnifi- 
cence. The I-Ho Yiian, as the Summer Palace is called,^ 
had been entirely rebuilt, by the Emperor’s orders, with 

^ The results of the Prince’s eminent services in naval and military 
reorganisation were demonstrated three years later, not entirely to the 
nation’s satisfaction, in the war with Japan. 

^ From a sentence in the Book of Rites, which means “ to give rest and 
peace to Heaven-sent old age,” 



funds taken from the Navy Department and other Govern- 
ment Boards since 1889, and had just been completed. 
Most of the high provincial authorities had been summoned 
to the capital to take part m these festivities (and, incident- 
ally, to help to pay for them), and amongst them the 
faithful Jung Lu returned once more to his mistress’s side, 
in high’ favour, as General in command of the Forces at 
Peking. (For the last three years he had been at Hsi-an, 
holding the sinecure post of Tartar General.) Every high 
official in the Empire had been “invited” to contribute 
twenty-five per cent, of his salary as a birthday gift to Her 
Majesty, and the total amount of these offerings must have 
amounted to several millions of taels. Everything pointed 
to festivities of great splendour; orders had already been 
given for the erection of triumphal arches in her honour 
throughout the whole five miles of the Imperial highway 
between Peking and the Summer Palace, when the con- 
tinued disasters which overtook China’s forces, imme- 
diately after the outbreak of the war with Japan, caused 
Her Majesty to reconsider the situation, and eventually 
to cancel all arrangements for the celebration. In the 
Emperor’s name she issued the following somewhat 
pathetic Decree ; — 

“The auspicious occasion of my sixtieth birthday, occurring 
in the loth Moon of this year, was to have been a joyful event, 
in which the whole nation would unite in paying to me loyal 
and dutiful homage. It had been intended that His Majesty 
the Emperor, accompanied by the whole Court, should proceed 
to offer congratulations to me, and make obeisance at the 
Summer Palace, and my officials and people have subscribed 
funds wherewith to raise triumphal arches, and to decorate the 
Imperial highway throughout its entire length from Peking to 
the I-Ho Yiian; high altars have been erected where Buddhist 
Sutras were to have been recited in my honour. I was not 
disposed to be unduly obstinate and to insist on refusing these 
honours, because, at the time that the celebration was planned, 
my people were enjoying peace and prosperity; moreover, there 
is precedent for such displays of pageantry and rejoicing ill the 
occasions on which the Emperors K’ang-Hsi and Ck’ien-Lung 
celebrated their sixtieth birthdays. I, therefore, consented to 
His Majesty’s filial request, and decided to receive birthday 
congratulations at the Summer Palace. Who would ever have 


anticipate that the Japanese (literally, * dwarf men ’) would 
have dared to force us into hostilities, and that since the be- 
ginning of the summer they have invaded our tributary State 
(Corea) and destroyed our fleet? We had no alternative but to 
draw the sword and to commence a punitive campaign ; at this 
moment our armies are pressing to the front. The people of 
both nations (China and Corea) are now involved in all the 
horrors of war, and I am continually haunted by the thought 
of their distress; therefore, I have issued a grant of three 
million taels from my privy purse for the maintenance and relief 
of our troops at the front. 

“Although the date of my birthday is drawing close, how 
could I have the heart, at such a time, to delight my senses 
with revelries, or to receive from my subjects congratulations 
which could only be sincere if we had won a glorious victory? 

I therefore decree that the ceremonies to be observed on my 
birthday shall be performed at the Palace in Peking, and all 
preparations at the Summer Palace shall be abandoned forthwith. 
The words of the Empress.’* 

To which the Emperor adds the filial remark on his own 
account : ‘‘That Her Majesty had acted in accordance with 
the admirable virtue which always distinguished her, and 
that, in spite of his own wishes, he was bound reverently 
to obey her orders in the matter.” 

China’s complete and ignominious defeat by the Japanese 
forces undoubtedly inflicted no small loss of prestige on the 
Manchu Dynasty, and was a direct cause of the violent 
agitation of the Southern Provinces for reform, which led 
in turn to the coup d^etat and to the Boxer rising. It is 
doubtful whether war could have been avoided without 
even greater sacrifices and humiliation, and the Empress 
Dowager showed her usual sagacity therefore in refrain- 
ing from expressing any opinion or taking any share of 
responsibility in the decision taken by the Emperor. She 
knew, moreover, that, by the action and advice of her Chief 
Eunuch, the Navy had for years been starved in order 
to provide her with funds to rebuild and decorate the 
Summer Palace, a fact of which some of China’s most 
distinguished advisers were at that time unaware. 

As Viceroy of the Metropolitan Province, Li Hudg- 
chang was generally blamed for advising the Court to 
maintain China’s suzerainty over Corea by force of arms. 


but, speaking from personal knowledge of this subject, we 
may state that, like many other Ministers similarly situated, 
he hesitated until the very last moment before taking risks 
which he knew to be enormous in both directions. The 
documents upon which history might have been written 
with full knowledge of the facts were unfortunately de- 
stroyed in the Viceroy’s Yamen at Tientsin and in the 
Inspector-General of Customs’ quarters at Peking, in 1900, 
so that the immediate cause of that disastrous war will 
probably never be established witli complete accuracy. 
Li Hung-chang was aware that twice already Japan had 
been bought off from a war of aggression against China, 
the first time (in 1874) by payment of an indemnity, and 
again (in 1885) by admitting her to a share in the control 
of Corea, a concession which had led directly to the present 
crisis. He realised that even had he been willing to sur- 
render China’s rights over Corea (which were of no real 
advantage to the Chinese Government) the concession 
might have purchased peace for the time being, but it would 
certainly have led before long to the loss of the Manchurian 
Provinces; just as certainly, in fact, as the doom of those 
provinces was sealed in 1905, on the day that China 
acquiesced in the terms of the Portsmouth Treaty. Japan’s 
attack on China’s positions was diplomatically as unjustifi- 
able as the methods which she adopted in commencing 
hostilities. Li Hung-chang was fully aware of the pre- 
parations that Japan had been making for years, and 
equally aware of the disorganised state of his own naval 
and military resources, but he was surrounded by officials 
who, like the Manchus in 1900, were convinced of China’s 
immense superiority and he was assured by the Chinese 
Resident in Corea (Yiian Shih-k’ai) that help would be 
forthcoming from England in the event of Japan’s com- 
mencing hostilities. There was no doubt of the British 
Government’s sympathy, which was clearly reflected in 
the attitude and actions of the Consul-General at Seoul. 

Chinese historians have openly accused Li Hlmg-chang 
of instigating the Court and the Emperor to a war of 
aggression, and the accusation has been generally credited 


abroad. The truth is, that while Li was originally all in 
favouf of sending a Chinese force to suppress the Corean 
insurrection, he became opposed to taking any steps that 
might lead to war with Japan, as soon as he realised that 
war was Japan’s object; nevertheless, it is certain that, in 
the last instance, he was persuaded against his better judg- 
ment by the military enthusiasm of his German advisers, 
and that the sending of the ill-fated Kow^hsing and her 
doomed crew to Corea was a step which he authorised 
only after consultation with Peking and in full knowledge 
of the fact that it meant war. No sooner had the Kow- 
hsing been sunk, and the first military disasters of the 
campaign reported, than he naturally endeavoured to mini- 
mise his own share of responsibility in the matter. 

Foreigners blamed him for making war on Japan, while 
his own countrymen attacked him for betraying China to 
the Japanese, as they subsequently attacked him for selling 
Manchuria to Russia. Tzu Hsi had no great love for the 
Viceroy, although she admired his remarkable intelligence 
and adroit methods: but when, after the war, he was 
fiercely attacked by several of the Censors, and when she 
found her own name associated with the blame imputed to 
him, she loyally defended him, as was her wont. In 1895 
a Censor named An Wei-chiin boldly blamed Her Majesty 
and the Viceroy for the disasters which had overtaken 
China. In reply to this extremely outspoken document, 
the Emperor issued the following Decree, which bears 
unmistakable signs of Tzu Hsi’s hand. The attack upon 
her favourite, Li Lien-ying, was in itself sufficient to bring 
her to the front, and there is no doubt that at the time 
she was keeping very close watch on the Emperor’s pro- 
ceedings, and regularly perusing all State papers. 

“Owing to the seriousness of recent events, we have been 
particularly anxious of late to receive and attend to the un- 
prejudiced suggestions of our Censors, and we have abstained 
from punishing any of them, even when they have made use 
of improper expressions in addressing us. With the gracious 
consent of Her Majesty the Empress Dowager, we have given 
particular attention to all projects whereby the welfare of our 
people may be advanced, and all our people must by this time 


be aware of our sincere desire to promote good Government. 
In spite of this, the Censor, An Wei-chiin, has to-day submitted 
a Memorial based entirely upon rumours, and containing the 
following sentence : ‘ How can you possibly justify your 

position before your ancestors and to your subjects if you permit 
the Empress Dowager still to dictate to you, or to interfere in 
the business of the State ? * 

“Language of this kind reveals depths of audacity unspeak- 
able, the unbridled licence of a madman’s tongue. Were we 
to fail in inflicting stern punishment in a case of this kind, the 
result might well be to produce estrangement between Her 
Majesty the Empress and ourselves. The Censor is, therefore, 
dismissed from office and sentenced to banishment at the post- 
roads, on the western frontier where he shall expiate his guilt 
and serve as a wholesome warning to others. His Memorial is 
handed back to him with the contempt it deserves.” 

TzQ Hsi felt deeply the humiliation of her country’s 
defeat by the Japanese, a race which, as Chinese historians 
never fail to remind themselves, took its first lessons in 
civilisation and culture from Chinese scholars and artists. 
Anxious at all costs to avoid another invasion of Chihli 
by the conquerors, she approved the Treaty of Peace, 
especially when assured by Li Hung-chang that Russia 
and her Continental allies would not allow Japan to annex 
any portion of the Manchurian Provinces. As above 
stated, she declined to permit Li to be made a scapegoat 
either by her chagrined Manchu kinsmen or by his fierce 
critics in the south, for she recognised the difficulty of his 
position, and the fact that he was not directly responsible 
for the deplorable condition of China’s defences. But, 
woman-like, she had to blame someone for the disasters 
that had deprived her and her capital of festivities whose 
splendour should have gone down, making her name 
glorious, to all posterity ; and it was not surprising, there- 
fore, if she heaped reproaches on the Emperor for entering 
upon so disastrous a war without her full knowledge and 
consent. It was at this time that began the estrangement 
which thenceforward gradually grew into the open hostility 
and secret plottings of 1898, the long bitterness between 
TzQ Hsi and her nephew which was to divide the Palace 
into camps of strife, and to. cease only with their death. 


From this time also, as they aver who were in close touch 
with the life of the Court, the Emperor’s Consort,' Tzu 
Hsi’s niece, became openly alienated from him, and their 
relations grew more severely strained as his reform tenden- 
cies developed and took shape. From 1894 to 1896 there 
was no noticeable change in the attitude of the Emperor 
to his august aunt, nor any diminution of his respectful 
attentions, but the man in the street knew well, as he 
always knows in China, of the rift in the lute, and when, 
in 1896, the Emperor’s mother (Tzu Hsi’s sister) died, it 
was realised that the last bond of amity and possible recon- 
ciliation between Kuang-Hsii and the Empress Dowager 
had been severed. 

’ .Subsequently known as the Empress Dow^ager Lung Yii. 



At the beginning of 1898 the Grand Council was com- 
posed of the following officials : Prince Kung, the Em- 
peror’s uncle, Prince Li, whose son was married to Jung 
Lu’s daughter, Kang Yi,^ Liao Shou-heng and Weng 
T’ung-ho, the Grand Secretary and ex-tutor to the Em- 
peror. The Empress Dowager was still leading her life 
of dignified leisure at the wSummer Palace, generally in 
company with her two confidential friends, the wife of Jung 
Lu and her adopted daughter, the Princess Imperial. By 
all accounts she was amusing herself with picnics on the 
K’un Ming lake, elaborate theatrical performances and 
excursions to the neighbouring temples and hill shrines, 
devoting her leisure from these pursuits to verse-making 
and painting, but keeping herself fully informed, through 
Kang Yi and Prince Li, of all that took place in the For- 
bidden City. Although leaving the conduct of State affairs 
to the Emperor, she occasionally visited the city for a day 
or two, while the Emperor, on his side, punctiliously 
repaired to the Summer Palace five or six times a month 
to pay his respects to the Old Buddha. Their relations 
at this period were outwardly friendly. Kuang-Hsii never 
failed to consult Her Majesty before the issue of any im- 
portant Decree, and Tzu Hsi was usually most cordial in 
her manner towards him. She had, it is true, occasion to 
reprove him more than once on account of reports which 
reached her, through the eunuchs, of his violent temper 
and alleged bad treatment of his attendants, reports which 

^ Kang Yi was a bigoted reactionary and the arch instigatdr of the 
Boxer movement at the capital. Young China has carafully preserved 
one of his sayings of that lime : “ The establishment ‘of schools and 
colleges has only encouraged Chinese ambitions and developed Chinese 
talent to the danger of the Manchu Dynasty : the students should 
therefore be exterminated without delay.” 



were probably instigated and exaggerated by Li Lien-ying 
for his own purposes. But Kuang-Hsii, as events subse- 
quently proved, was fully aware of the iron hand in the 
’sfelvet glove. Whenever the Empress came to Peking, he 
obeyed strictly the etiquette which required him reverently 
to kneel at the Palace gates to welcome her. When visit- 
ing her at the Summer Palace, he was not permitted to 
announce his arrival in person, but was obliged to kneel 
at the inner gate and there await the summons of admis- 
sion from the Chief Eunuch. Li, who hated him, delighted 
in keeping him waiting, sometimes as much as half an 
hour, before informing the Old Buddha of his presence. 
At each of these visits he was compelled, like any of the 
Palace officials, to pay his way by large fees to the 
eunuchs in attendance on Her Majesty, and as a matter of 
fact, these myrmidons treated him with considerably less 
respect than they showed to many high Manchu digni- 
taries. Within the Palace precincts, the Son of Heaven 
was indeed regarded as of little account, so that the 
initiative and determination which he displayed during 
the hundred days of reforms in the summer of 1898 came 
as a disturbing surprise to many at Court and showed that, 
given an opportunity, he was not wholly unworthy of the 
Yehonala blood of his mother, Tzu Hsi’s sister. 

The official who had hitherto exercised most influence 
over the Emperor was Weng T’ung-ho, the Imperial tutor. 
He had only rejoined the Grand Council in November 
1894, at the critical time when the disastrous opening of 
the war with Japan had brought about the dismissal of the 
former Council ; but as Imperial tutor he had had the 
entree of the Palace ever since the Emperor was five years 
old. He was the leader of the southern party in the capital. 
A native of Kiangsu (the birthplace of all the greatest 
scholars of China during the present Dynasty, and the 
centre of national culture), he hated the narrow conservat- 
ism of the Manchus, and included in his dislike the Chinese 
of the Metropolitan Provinces, whose politics and point of 
view were very similar to those of the Manchus. The strife 
between north and south really dated from the beginning 


of Kuang-Hsii’s reign. The two protagonists on the 
northern side were Hsii T’ung, a well-educated Chinese 
Bannerman (for all practical purposes, a Manchu at heart) 
who had been tutor to the Emperor T’ung-Chih; and Li 
Hung-tsao, a native of Chihli, who had joined the Grand 
Council at the same time as Weng T'ung-ho. The 
southern party was led by Weng T*ung-ho and P*an Tsu- 
yin, the latter a native of Soochow and a most brilliant 
scholar and essayist. It is necessary to dwell on this party 
strife and its development, because it was the first cause 
of the reform movement of 1898, of the subsequent resump- 
tion of the Regency by Tzu Hsi, and, eventually, of the 
Boxer rising. 

For more than twenty years these four high officials had 
been colleagues in Peking, meeting one another constantly 
in social as well as official circles. Their literary argu- 
ments, in which the quick-witted southerners generally 
scored, were the talk of the capital. All four men bore 
good reputations for integrity, so that literary graduates 
entering official life were glad to become their protiges; 
but the adherents of the southern party were the more 
numerous. This fact aroused the jealousy of Li and Hsii, 
which grew until it found vent publicly at the metropolitan 
examination for the “Chin Shih,’^ or Doctor’s, degree in 
1889, on which occasion Li was Grand Examiner and P*an 
Tsu-yin his chief Associate. P’an, whose duty it was to 
select the best essays, recommended a native of Kiangu for 
the high honour of Optimus, but Li declined to endorse his 
decision, and gave the award to a Chihli man. P’an 
thereupon openly accused Li of prejudice and unfairness 
towards the southerner, and twitted him besides on his 
second-rate scholarship. 

At the time of Russia’s seizure of Hi, in 1880, Hsii T’ung 
and Weng T’ung-ho were respectively Presidents of the 
Boards of Ceremonies and Works. At a conference of the 
highest officials, held in the Palace, Weng declared* him- 
self in favour of war with Russia, but Hsii, after promising 
to support him, left him in the lurch at the last moment, 
causing him discomfiture and loss of face. Hence, bitter 


enmity between them, which increased in intensity when 
they became the leaders of the rival factions. Weng was 
also on bad terms with Jung Lu, who had never forgiven 
him for the part he played in 1880, when Weng denounced 
his impious liaison to the Empress Dowager and brought 
about his dismissal. Jung Lu, as a loyal Manchu, naturally 
favoured the northern faction and his personal feelings 
prompted him in the same direction. 

The enmity between the rival parties increased steadily 
in the early ’nineties, and when Li and Weng were 
appointed to the Grand Council, in 1894, ihe Court itself 
became involved in their strife, the Empress siding with 
the north and the Emperor with the south. At that time 
people were wont to speak of the Li faction and the Weng 
faction, but later they came to be known as the Empress 
Dowager’s party, irreverently nicknamed the “Old Mother 
set,” and the Emperor’s party, or “Small Lad’s set.” 
Both P’an and Li died in 1897. ft was after the latter’s 
death that Hsii T’ung began to instigate secret and sinister 
designs against the Emperor, whom he called a Chinese 
traitor. Hsii T’ung, having been tutor to T’ung Chih, 
naturally enjoyed considerable influence with the Empress, 
but Kuang-Hsii flatly refused to have him on the Grand 
Council. So great was his dislike for the old man that he 
only received him once in audience between 1887 and 1898. 
Hsii had a valuable ally in Kang Yi, who hated all 
Chinese, southerners and northerners alike, and whose 
influence was used effectively to sow dissension between 
Tzu Hsi and the Emperor. In 1897 Kang Yi urged the 
Emperor to give orders that the Manchu troops should be 
efficiently trained and equipped. Kuang-Hsii replied: 
“You persist, it seems, in the exploded idea that the 
Manchu soldiery are good fighting men. I tell you that 
they are absolutely useless.” Kang Yi, highly incensed, 
promptly informed the Old Buddha and the Iron-capped 
Princes that the Emperor was the enemy of all Manchus, 
and was plotting to appoint Chinese to all high offices, a 
statement which naturally created a strong feeling against 
His Majesty at Court. 


Even the foreign policy of the Empire felt the effects of 
this rivalry of the opposing parties in the capital. The 
Empress, the Manchus, and the Chinese Bannermen were 
in favour of coming to an understanding with Russia, 
while the Emperor, Weng, and the southern Chinese, 
inclined to a rapprochement with Japan, with a view to 
imitation of that country’s successful reforms. Li Hung- 
chang counted for little at the time, the fact being that, 
owing to his alleged responsibility for the war with Japan, 
his opinions were at a discount; but such influence as he 
had was used against the Emperor’s party. Prince Kung, 
the doyen of the Imperial family, to whose ripe judgment 
the Empress herself would yield at times, was the only 
high Manchu to maintain friendly relations with the 
Chinese party. A fine scholar himself, he had always 
admired Weng T’ung-ho’s literary gifts; the war with 
Japan had been none of his seeking, and he had been 
recalled to the Grand Council, at the same time as Weng, 
after a retirement of fourteen years. 

The fact is not generally known that Weng T’ung-ho 
was most anxious at this time to be sent as Special Envoy 
to the coronation of the Czar, for the reason that, realising 
the Empress Dowager’s growing hostility towards himself, 
he wished to be out of harm’s way in the crisis which he 
felt to be impending. By a Decree of 1895 Weng had 
been “excused from further attendance to instruct His 
Majesty at the Palace of Happy Education,’’ so that he 
could no longer influence His Majesty, as heretofore, at 
all times and seasons, and his rivals were thus enabled 
successfully to misrepresent him. 

Prince Kung, the head of the Grand Council, went on 
sick furlough at the beginning of 1898, afflicted with 
incurable lung and heart complaints. The Emperor accom-^ 
panied the Empress Dowager on three occasions ^to visit 
him at his residence, and ordered the Imperial physicians 
to attend him. On the loth day of the 4th Moon he* died,* 
and TzQ Hsi recorded her grief at his loss in a sympathetic 

His death was a serious matter. On the one hand the 


Manchu party lost in him its senior representative, an 
elder whose wise counsel had guided them, and a states- 
man whdse influence had been steadily exercised against 
their tendencies towards an anti-Chinese and anti-foreign 
policy. As the last survivor of the sons of Tao-Kuang, 
he held, vis-A-vis the Empress Dowager, a position very 
different from that of the other princes, his contemporaries. 
It is probable that, had he survived, there would have 
been no Boxer rising. On the other hand, the Emperor 
had always deferred to Prince Kung’s advice, and it was 
not until after his death that he embarked headlong on the 
reform schemes of K’ang Yu-wei and his associates, many 
of which the Prince, though no bigoted Conservative, 
would certainly have condemned. To Weng T’ung-ho 
also the loss was serious, as well he knew, for Prince 
Kung had been his best friend 

It was shortly after the Prince’s death that Weng recom- 
mended K’ang Yu-wei to the Emperor’s notice, informing 
His Majesty that K’ang’s abilities were far superior to his 
own. Weng undoubtedly hoped that K’ang would gain 
the Sovereign’s favour and use it to assist the southern 
party against the Manchus, and especially against his arch 
enemies, Kang Yi and Hsu T’ung ; but he certainly never 
anticipated that K’ang would go so far as to advise the 
Emperor to defy the Old Buddha herself, and to plot 
against her sacred person. His idea was simply to gain 
kudos and to strengthen his own position and that of his 
party. The Emperor accepted his recommendation of 
K’ang, and summoned the latter to audience on the 28th 
of the 4th Moon (14th June 1898). 

Weng told his friend and colleague, Liao Shou-heng, 
that he would await the result of this audience before 
coming to a decision as to his own future movements. If 
K’ang Yu-wei made a good impression, he would remain 
in office; if not, he would resign. He added that if the 
usual gifts of the Dragon Festival were sent him by the 
Emperor, he would feel that there was no immediate 
danger in his position. All he asked was that he might 
escape the open hostility of the Empress Dowager, such as 


had fallen upon the Cantonese Vice-President, Chang Yin- 
huan, whose dismissal was expected at any moment. As 
it happened, however, K’ang Yu-wei and his friends per- 
suaded the Emperor to insist on retaining Chang Yin- 
huan in office, and for the next hundred days he became 
Kuang-Hsii’s right-hand man, playing his part, fore- 
doomed, while in the “deep seclusion of her Palace** the 
Old Buddha bided her time. 

On the 20th of the 4th Moon, Weng T*ung-ho applied 
for a week’s sick leave, a face-saving device which showed 
that he was aware of the impending storm. On the 23rd 
His Majesty issued the first of his Reform Decrees. He 
had duly conferred on the subject with the Empress at the 
Summer Palace, and had accorded a special audience to 
Jung Lu, Tzu Hsi assured him that she would raise no 
obstacles to his proposed policy, provided that the ancient 
privileges of the Manchus were not infringed ; at the same 
time, she insisted on his getting rid of Weng T*ung-ho 
without delay, as he was instigating an anti-Manchu move- 
ment which, if it gained headway, might involve the 
Dynasty in ruin. Jung Lu strongly recommended to His 
Majesty a notable progressive, the son of Ch*en Pao-chen, 
Governor of Hupei. The fact is of interest because of the 
idea prevalent among Europeans, that Jung Lu was ever 
opposed to reform. Subsequent events compelled him to 
turn against the very man whom he now recommended, but 
this was not so much on account of a change in his views, 
as because the policy of the reformers had developed on 
unexpected and dangerous lines. 

On the day following the issue of the first Reform 
Decree was proclaimed the result of what the Emperor 
fully intended to be the last examination under the old 
classical-essay system. The candidate originally selected 
for the high honour of Optimus was again a Kiangsu 
man, but the Empress herself altered the list and conferred 
the coveted distinction upon a native of Kueichou pro- 
vince, to mark her displeasure against the province which 
had given birth to Weng T*ung-ho. At the same time a 
Decree advised members of^ the Imperial Clan to seek 


education in Europe ; even Princes of the Blood were to be 
encouraged to go abroad and to investigate political con- 
ditions. Among the Manchus, the sensation created by 
these Decrees was very great; they felt that, for the first 
time in history, fundamental things were being challenged, 
the ancient bulwarks of the Dynastic privileges in danger. 
Had not Mencius himself said: “We have heard of 
Chinese ideas being employed to convert barbarians, but 
have never heard of China being converted by barbarians.” 

On the morning after the issue of the second Decree, 
Weng T’ung-ho, on return from his week's leave, pro- 
ceeded as usual at 4 a.m. to the Summer Palace to attend 
the audience of the Grand Council. He was met by one 
of the Secretaries to the Council who, handing him an 
Imperial Decree, informed him of his dismissal. It was 
Tzu Hsi’s first open move on behalf of the Manchu party, 
and a clear admission of tutelage on the part of the 

Another Decree proved even more plainly that the 
Emperor was completely under Tzu Hsi's orders; it 
directed that all officials above the second rank should 
thenceforward return thanks to Her Majesty in person 
upon receiving appointments. This was a new departure, 
for, since the war with Japan, she had ceased to hold daily 
audiences, receiving officials only on her birthday and 
other State occasions. Another Decree of the same day 
transferred Jung Lu to Tientsin as Viceroy of Chihli. He 
and K’ang Yu-wei were received in audience next morn- 
ing. To Jung Lu the Emperor gave orders to reorganise 
the forces in Chihli, adding that he looked to him for loyal 
co-operation in the reform movement. The audience to 
K’ang Yu-wei, first of many similar interviews (but the 
only one recorded in the official Gazette), lasted several 
hours. K’ang deeply disliked and feared Tzu Hsi, and 
from the outset he did his best to prejudice the Emperor 
against her. He reiterated his opinion that her sympathy 
for reform was merely a feint, and he roundly denounced 
her wanton extravagance and dissipated life at the Summer 
Palace. He described the unpopularity of the Manchu rule 


in the south as chiefly due to the people’s contempt for 
Her Majesty, and compared her private life to that of the 
notorious Empress Wu of the T’ang Dynasty. He advised 
Kuang-Hsii to relegate her permanently to retirement, she 
being the chief obstacle to reform. The Emperor fell 
speedily and completely under K’ang’s influence, and 
none of his subsequent Edicts was issued without K’ang’s 
assistance. In the light of later knowledge, and of almost 
universal Chinese opinion on this subject, it is difficult to 
acquit K’ang Yu-wei of personal and interested motives, 
of a desire to wield power in the State as the result of his 
influence over the Emperor, whose emotional pliability he 
made to serve his own ends. Looked at in this light, his 
denunciations of the Empress Dowager and Jung Lu were 
evidently less the outcome of patriotic indignation than of 
his recognition of the fact that, so long as Tzu Hsi 
remained in power, his ambitions could never be achieved, 
nor his own position secured. 



Immediately following upon K*ang Yu-wei*s first 
audience, Reform Decrees followed one another in rapid 
succession. The old examination system which had been 
in force, with one brief intermission (in K’ang-Hsi*s reign), 
since the days of the Sung Dynasty, was definitely 
abolished. For the future, said the Emperor, papers on 
practical subjects were to be set at the public examinations, 
and while the classics were to remain as a basis for the 
literary curriculum, candidates for the public service would 
be expected to display a knowledge of the history of other 
countries and of contemporary politics. It was at this 
juncture that the President of the Board of Rites, Hsii 
Ying-k’uei (who, though a Cantonese, was a stalwart Con- 
servative), was denounced by the Censors Sung Po-lu and 
Yang Shen-hsiu for obstructing the decreed reforms. 
They begged the Emperor to “display his divine wrath by 
immediately reducing Hsii to the rank of a fourth class 
official as a warning to other offenders.’* “We have 
noted,” they said, “Your Majesty’s zeal in the cause of 
reform and Your gracious desire to promote improved 
education and friendly relations with foreign Powers. The 
Board of Rites is in charge of all the colleges in the Empire 
and the Tsungli Yamen directs our policy. Hsii Ying- 
k’uei, President of the Board of Rites and a Minister of 
the Tsungli Yamen, is a man of second-rate ability, 
arrogant, ignorant, and hopelessly obstinate. Your 
Majesty, being deeply conscious of the vital need for per- 
manent and radical reform, and anxious to encourage men 
of talent, has instituted a special examination in political 
economy, but Hsii Ying-ku’ei has dared to cast disparage- 
ment on Your Majesty’s orders and has openly stated that 



such an examination is a useless innovation. It is his 
intention to. allow as few candidates as possible to pass 
this examination so as to render it unpopular. He is 
similarly opposing everyone of Your Majesty’s proposed 
reforms. He vilifies western learning in conversation with 
his proteges, and is the sworn foe of all progressive 
scholars. Your Majesty’s chief complaint is that such 
scholars are too few in number, but Hsii Ying-ku’ei’s chief 
hope is to suppress the few there are. 

*‘In the Tsungli YamSn a single phrase wrongly ex- 
pressed may well precipitate a war; so important are the 
duties there to be performed that no one unacquainted with 
foreign affairs, and the ways of those who seek to injure 
us, can possibly render effective service to the State. Hsii 
Ying-ku'ei is far from being a distinguished Chinese 
scholar; nevertheless he despises European learning. His 
boundless conceit is a menace to our country’s interests 
and dignity. It seems to us a monstrous thing that a man 
of this stamp should be employed at the Tsungli YamSn, 
and that his removal from the Board would be of incalcul- 
able benefit. He deserves to be removed from office for 
blocking reform and impeding the execution of Your 
Majesty’s plans, if only as a warning to reactionary 
officials, who are all a danger to their country. If Your 
Majesty will reduce him to the fourth official rank we shall 
escape the ridicule of foreign nations, and the cause of 
reform will be greatly advanced.” 

On receipt of the above Memorial, Kuang-Hsii com- 
manded Hsii Ying-ku’ei to submit a personal explanation 
of his conduct. Hsu complied in a Memorial which fiercely 
denounced K’ang Yu-wei. The Emperor was greatly 
incensed by this outspoken document, but could not as yet 
summon up courage to offend the Empress Dowager by 
dismissing from office one who enjoyed her favour and 
protection. Tzu Hsi perused both Memorials and was 
secretly impressed by Hsii’s warning in regard .to the 
revolutionary tendencies of the reformers. From that day, 
though openly unopposed to reform, she became suspicious 
of K’ang’s influence over the Emperor, but preferred to 


bide her time, never doubting that, at a word from her, 
Kuang-Hsii would dismiss him. She gave a special 
audience to Wang Wen-shao, who had come from Tientsin 
after handing over the Chihli Viceroyalty to Jung Lu. 
Wang stoutly supported Hsii Ying-ku’ei’s attitude of 
caution in regard to several of the Emperor’s proposed 
measures. Following upon this audience, the Emperor 
issued a Decree permitting Hsii to retain his posts, but 
warning him to show more energy in future both at the 
Board of Rites and at the Tsungli Yam^n. Hsii regarded 
this as a decided triumph, due to Tzu Hsi’s protection, 
and became more than ever opposed to innovations; this 
attitude was strengthened when Huai Ta Pu, his Manchu 
colleague at the Board of Rites and a first cousin of Tzii 
Hsi, came out as a strong supporter of the ultra- 

The Emperor’s next Decree provided for the reorganisa- 
tion of the effete Manchu troops of the Metropolitan Pro- 
vince and for the founding of colleges and high schools in 
the provinces, to correspond to the Peking University. 

A reactionary Memorial by the Censor Wen T’i ^ 
charged his colleagues Sung Po-lu and Yang Shen-hsiu 
with making their personal jealousy of Hsii Ying-ku’ei 
an excuse for deluding the Emperor and setting him at 
variance with the Empress Dowager. This greatly angered 
His Majesty, who promptly had the offender dismissed 
from the Censorate for stirring up that very party strife 
which his Memorial professed to denounce. Wen T’i, 
thus rebuked, induced Huai Ta Pu to go out to the 
Summer Palace and endeavour to enlist the Old Buddha’s 
sympathy in his behalf. She, however, declined to move 
in the matter, having at the moment no specific ground of 
complaint against the Emperor and preferring to give the 
Progressives all the rope they wanted; but she caused Yii 
Lu, one of her old proteges, to be appointed 'to the Grand 
Council, and this official kept her regularly informed (rf 

K"* In 1901, this official begged Tzii Hsi, just before her departure from 
K’ai-Feng fii for Peking, not to return thither, on the ground that her 
Palace had been polluted bjr the presence of the foreign barbarians. 


everything that occurred in Peking, He belonged to the 
Kang Yi faction of extremists and disapproved of reform 
with all the dogged stupidity of his class. Latpr, in 1900, 
as Viceroy of Chihli, he rendered no little assistance to 
Kang Yi*s schemes for massacring all foreigners, and was 
a noted leader of the Boxer movement. With three 
reactionaries on the Council of the stamp of Kang Yi, 
Wang Wen-shao and Yii Lu, there was small chance of 
any genuine opportunity or honest purpose of reform, 
whatever the Emperor might choose to decree, but before 
the Conservatives could assume the offensive, they had to 
win over Tzu Hsi definitely and openly to their side, and 
with her Jung Lu. 

At about this time Kuang-Hsii reprimanded another 
Censor for a trifling error in caligraphy, the incorrect writ- 
ing of a character.^ Nevertheless, a week later, a Decree 
was issued, clearly showing the influence of K’ang Yu- 
wei in which it was ordered that caligraphy should no 
longer form a special subject at the public examinations. 
‘Hn certain branches of the public service neat hand- 
writing was no doubt of great value, but it would in future 
be made the subject of special examinations for the 
appointment of copyists.” 

On the 8th day of the 6th Moon, a Decree ordered 
arrangements to be made for the publication of official 
Gazettes all over the Empire, and K’ang Yu-wei was 
placed in charge of the Head Office at Shanghai. These 
Gazettes were to be official newspapers, and their object 
was the extension of general knowledge. They were to 
receive Government subsidies; copies were to be regularly 
submitted for the Emperor’s perusal ; opinions were to be 
freely expressed, and all abuses fearlessly exposed. K’ang 
Yu-wei was directed to draw up Press regulations in this 

On the 23rd of the 6th Moon, another vigorous Decree 
exhorted the official class to turn its attention* seriously to 

^ The Emperor prided himseli on being a great stickler in sudi 
matters, and many of the younger^ officials feared him on account of 
Kis quick temper and martinet manner in dealing with them. 


reforms. Herein the Emperor declared that the procras- 
tination hitherto displayed was most disheartening. 
“Stagnation,” said the Edict, “is the sign of grave internal 
sickness; hopeless abuses are bred from this palsied indif- 
ference. An earnest reformer like Ch’en Pao-chen, the 
Governor of Hupei, becomes a target for the violent abuse 
of officials and gentry. Henceforward I would have you 
all sympathise with my anxiety and work earnestly to- 
gether, so that we may profit by our past reverses and 
provide for a brighter future.” 

Another Decree ordered the institution of naval colleges 
as a step preliminary to the reconstruction of China’s fleet. 
Railway and mining bureaus were established in Peking, 
and the Cantonese reformer, Liang Ch’i-ch’ao, was given 
charge of a Translation Department, to publish standard 
foreign works on political economy and natural science, a 
grant of one thousand taels per mensem being allowed to 
cover his expenses. 

But an innovation more startling than all these, broke 
upon the upholders of the old regime in a Decree issued 
in response to a Memorial by Jung Lu, who was all in 
favour of reform in military matters. It was therein 
announced that the Emperor would escort the Empress 
Dowager by train to Tientsin on the 5th day of the 9th 
Moon, and there hold a review of the troops. The Con- 
servatives were aghast at the idea of their Majesties travel- 
ling by train, but Tzu Hsi, who had always enjoyed riding 
on the miniature railway in the Winter Palace, was de- 
lighted at the prospect of so novel an excursion. But if 
Manchu propriety was shocked at this proposal, a still 
heavier blow was dealt it by the next Decree, which 
abolished a number of obsolete and useless Government 
offices and sinecures, fat jobs which, for generations, had 
maintained thousands of idlers in the enjoyment of 
lucrative squeezes, a burden on the State. 

This Decree was loudly denounced as contrary to the 
traditions of the Manchu Dynasty, and from all sides came 
urgent appeals to the Old Buddha to protect the privileges 
of the ruling class, and to order its cancellation. Yet 


another bolt fell two days later, when all the high officials 
of the Board of Rites, including Hsii Ying-ku’ei and the 
Empress Dowager’s kinsman, Huai Ta Pu, were sum- 
marily cashiered for having suppressed a Mentorial by the 
Secretary, Wang Chao. In this document it was sug- 
gested that the Emperor, in company with the Empress 
Dowager, should travel abroad, beginning with Japan and 
concluding with a tour in Europe. Realising that “the 
craft of Demetrius was in danger,” nearly all the Con- 
servatives holding high office proceeded in a body to the 
Summer Palace and told the Empress Dowager that the 
only hope of saving the country lay in her resumption of 
the supreme power. The Old Buddha bade them wait — the 
sands were running out, but she was not yet ready to move. 

K’ang Yu-wei, realising that there was danger ahead, 
took advantage of what he mistook for indecision on the 
part of Tzu Hsi to induce the Emperor to rebel against her 
authority. Once more he assured Kuang-Hsu that her 
professed sympathy for reform was all a sham, and that, 
on the contrary, it was she herself who was the chief 
obstacle to China’s awakening, her influence being really 
the prime factor in the country’s corruption and lethargy. 
Why should she be permitted to waste millions of Govern- 
ment funds yearly in the upkeep of her lavish establish- 
ment at the Summer Palace? He advised the Emperor 
by a coup de main to surround her residence, seize her 
person, and confine her for the rest of her days on a certain 
small island in the Winter Palace lake. Thereafter he 
should issue a Decree recounting her many misdeeds and 
proclaiming his intention never again to permit her to have 
any part in the Goverment. This conversation was held 
in a private apartment of the Palace, but there is every 
reason to believe that it was reported to Tzu Hsi by one 
of the eunuch spies employed by Li Lien-ying for that 
purpose. The Emperor foolishly allowed himself to be 
led into approval of this plot, but decided to a\^ait the 
Court’s proposed trip to Tientsin before piftting* it into 
execution. He knew that to ensure success for the scheme 
he must be able to command the services of the troop:^. 


and he realised that so long as Jung Lu was in command 
of the foreign-drilled forces of Chihli, he would never con- 
sent to their lifting a finger against his life-long bene- 
factress. Herein, in the Emperor’s opinion, lay the main 
obstacle that confronted him. The real danger, that lay in 
Tsu Hsi’s enormous personal influence and fertility of 
resource he appears to have under-rated, mistaking het 
inaction for indecision. 

For the moment he continued to issue new Edicts, one 
ordering the making of macadamised roads in Peking, 
another the enrolment of militia for purposes of national 
defence, while a third authorised Manchus to leave Peking, 
should they so wish, to earn their living in the provinces. 
On the 27th of the 7th Moon, appeared the last of his 
important Reform Decrees — a, document pathetic in the 
light of subsequent events. 

“In promoting reforms, we have adopted certain European 
methods, because, while China and Europe are both alike in 
holding that the first object of good government should be the 
welfare of the people, Europe has travelled further on this road 
than we have, so that, by the introduction of European methods, 
we simply make good China’s deficiencies. But our Statesmen 
and scholars are so ignorant of what lies beyond our borders 
that they look upon Europe as possessing no civilisation. They 
are all unaware of those numerous branches of western know- 
ledge whose object it is to enlighten the minds and increase the 
material prosperity of the people. Physical well-being and 
increased longevity of the race are thereby secured for the 

“ Is it possible that I, the Emperor, am to be regarded as a 
mere follower after new and strange ideas because of my thirst 
for reform? My love for the people, my children, springs from 
the feeling that God has confided them to me and that to my 
care they have been given in trust by my illustrious Ancestors. 
I shall never feel that my duty as Sovereign is fulfilled until I 
have raised them all to a condition of peaceful prosperity. 
Moreover, do not the foreign Powers surround our Empire, 
committing frequent acts of aggression? Unless we learn and 
adopt the sources of their strength, our plight cannot be 
remedied. The cause of my anxiety is not fully appreciated 
by my people, because the reactionary element deliberately 
misrepresents my objects, spreading the while baseless rumours 
so as to disturb the minds of men. When I reflect how deep is 


the ignorance of the masses of the dwellers in the innermost 
parts of the Empire on the subject of my proposed reforms, my 
heart is filled with care and grief. Therefore do I hereby now 
proclaim my intentions, so that the whole Empire may know 
and believe that their Sovereign is to be trusted and that the 
people may co-operate with me in working for reform and the 
strengthening of our country. This is my earnest hope. I 
command that the whole of my Reform Decrees be printed on 
Yellow paper and distributed for the information of all men. 
The District Magistrates are henceforward privileged to submit 
Memorials to me through the Provincial Viceroys, so that I may 
learn the real needs of the people. Let this Decree be exhibited 
in the front hall of every public office in the Empire so that all 
men may see it.” 

But the sands had run out. Tzii Hsi now emerged from 
^•the profound seclusion of her Palace” and Kuang-Hsu^s 
little hour was over. 



In August 1898 — at the end of the 7th Moon — ^the posi- 
tion of affairs in the Palace (known only to a few) was 
that the Empress Dowager had been won over to the re- 
actionary party ; she was postponing a decisive step, how- 
ever, until she and the Emperor made their proposed visit 
to Tientsin in the 9th Moon. It was her intention there 
to confer with Jung Lu before resuming the Regency, 
because of the unmistakable hostility towards her then 
prevailing in the southern provinces, which she wished to 
allay, as far as possible, by avoiding any overt measures of 
usurpation until her preparations were made. On the ist 
of the 8th Moon, the Emperor, who was then in residence 
at the Summer Palace, received in audience Yiian Shih- 
k’ai, the Judicial Commissioner of Chihli, and discussed 
with him at great length the political needs of the Empire. 
Yiian (then in his fortieth year) had owed his rapid ad- 
vancement to the protection of the great Viceroy Li Hung- 
chang; nevertheless, among his rivals and enemies there 
were many who attributed the disastrous war with Japan 
in 1894 his arbitrary conduct of affairs as Imperial 
Resident in Corea. There is no doubt that his reports and 
advice on the situation at Seoul precipitated, if they did 
not cause, the crisis, leading the Chinese Government to 
despatch troops into the country in the face of Japan’s 
desire and readiness for war, and thus to the extinction 
of China’s sovereignty in the Hermit Kingdom; but the 
fact had not impaired Yiian ’s personal prestige or his 
influence at Court. As a result of this audience the 
Emperor was completely won over by. Yiian’s professed 
interest in the cause of reform, and was convinced that in 
him he had secured a powerful supporter. His Majesty 




had already realised that he must now reckon with the Old 
Buddha’s uncompromising opposition; quite recently she 
had severely rebuked him for even noticing K’ang Yu- 
wei’s suggestion that he should act more oh his own 
authority. Jung Lu, he knew, would always loyally sup- 
port his Imperial mistress ; and there was not one 
prominent Manchu in the Empire, and, as far as Peking 
was concerned, hardly a Chinese, who would dare to oppose 
the Old Buddha, if once she declared herself actively on 
the side of reaction. The only two high officials in Peking 
on whom he could confidently reckon for sympathy and 
support were the Cantonese Chang Yin-huan, and Li 
Tuan-fen, a native of Kueichou. But if he could obtain 
control of the Northern foreign-drilled army, the reaction- 
ary party might yet be overthrown. To secure this end it 
was essential that Jung Lu, the Governor-General of Chihli 
and Commander-in-Chief of the foreign-drilled forces, 
should be put out of the way, and this before the Empress 
could be warned of the plot. The Emperor therefore 
proposed to have Jung Lu put to death in his Yamfen at 
Tientsin, and then swiftly to bring a force of 10,000 of his 
disciplined troops to the capital, who would confine the 
Empress Dowager to the Summer Palace. At the same 
time the most prominent reactionaries in Peking, i. e. 
Kang Yi, Yii Lu, Huai Ta Pu and Hsu Ying-ku’ei were 
to be seized at their residence and hurried off to the prison 
of the Board of Punishments. This was the scheme sug- 
gested by K’ang Yu-wei, the Censor Yang Shen-hsiu, 
and the secretaries of the Grand Council, T’an Ssu-t’ung, 
Lin-Hsii, Yang Jui, and Liu Kuang-ti. At this first 
audience Yiian Shih-k’ai was informed of the Emperor’s 
determination to maintain and enforce his reform policy, 
and was asked whether he would be loyal to his sovereign 
if placed in command of a large force of troops. ‘‘Your 
servant will endeavour to recompense the Imperial flavour,” 
he replied, '‘even though his merit be only ^s a. drop of 
water in the ocean or a grain of sand in the desert; he will 
faithfully perform the service of a dog or a horse while 
there remains breath in hia body.” 


Completely reassured by Yiian’s words and earnest 
manner and his apparently genuine zeal for reform, the 
Emperor straightway issued the following Decree: — 

‘‘At the present time army reform is of all things most 
essential, and the judicial commissioner of Chihli, Yuan Shih- 
k’ai, is an energetic administrator and thoroughly earnest in 
the matter of training our forces. We therefore accord him the 
rank of Expectant Vice-President of a Board and place him in 
special charge of the business of army reform. He is to memor- 
ialise from time to time regarding any measures which he may 
desire to introduce. Under the present conditions of our Empire 
it is of the first importance that our defences be strengthened, 
and it behoves Yuan Shih-k’ai therefore to display all possible 
energy and zeal in the training of our troops, so that an efficient 
army may be organised, and the Throne’s determination to 
secure homogeneous forces be loyally supported.” 

At this first audience there had been no mention of 
the proposed removal of Jung Lu. Scarcely had Yiian left 
the Jen Shou (Benevolent Old Age) Palace Hall, than the 
Empress Dowager summoned him to her own apartments, 
and closely questioned him as to what the Emperor had 
said. “By all means let the army be reformed,” said the 
Old Buddha; “the Decree is sensible enough, but His 
Majesty is in too great a hurry, and I suspect him of 
cherishing some deep design. You will await a further 
audience with him, and then receive my instructions.” 

The Empress then sent for the Emperor, and informed 
him that he must have K’ang Yu-wei placed under arrest 
for speaking disrespectfully of her private life and morals. 
She refrained from informing him that she knew of his 
design to deprive her of power, and she was so far unaware 
of the extent of the plot against herself and Jung Lu. She 
reproached him, however, in general terms for his evident 
and increasing lack of filial duty towards herself. The 
Emperor meekly promised to comply with her wishes as to 
K’ang Yu-wei *s arrest, but late that same evening, while 
the Empress Dowager was entertaining herself at a water 
picnic on the K’un Ming Lake, he despatched his con- 
fidential eunuch, Sung Yu-lien, into Peking with the 
following Decree, drafted in His Majesty’s own unformed 
and childish handwriting : — 

THE COUP D*tTAT OF 1898 139 

** On a previous occasion we commanded the Secretary of the 
Board of Works, K’ang Yu-wei, to take charge of the Govern- 
ment Gazette Bureau at Shanghai. We learn with astonish- 
ment that he has not yet left Peking. We are well aware of 
the crisis through which the Empire is passing, an*d have been 
anxious on this account to obtain the services of men well versed 
in political economy, with whom to discuss improved methods 
of government. We granted one audience to K^ang Yu-wei 
(sic : as a matter of fact K^ang was received by His Majesty on 
several occasions) because of his special knowledge, and we 
appointed him to take charge of the Government Gazette Bureau 
for the reason that newspapers are one of the most important 
factors in national education and progress. His duties are 
evidently of no light responsibility, and funds having been 
specially raised for this enterprise, we command him now to 
betake himself with all despatch to Shanghai ; he shall on no 
account procrastinate any longer.” 

K*ang Yu-wei received the Decree, realised its signifi- 
cance, and left Peking by the first train next morning, 
arriving safely at Tongku, where he boarded a coasting 
steamer for Shanghai.^ When the Empress heard of his 
departure she was furious, and telegraphed to Jung Lu to 
arrest K’ang, but for some unexplained reason (the instruc- 
tions reached him before K’ang could have arrived at 
Tientsin) Jung Lu took no steps to do so. At this time 
he was unaware of the plot against his life, or he would 
hardly have shown such magnanimity. K’ang Yu-wei 
never gave him any credit for it and has always denounced 
Jung Lu as second only in villainy to the Empress 
Dowager, an arch enemy of reform and reformers. As 
a matter of fact Jung Lu was one of the high officials who 
originally recommended K’ang to the notice of the Em- 
peror, and till the day of his death he always .alluded to 
himself jocularly as one of the K^ang T^ang^ or K’ang 
Yu-wei party, to the great amusement of the Old Buddha, 
who would jokingly ask him what news he had of his friend 
K’ang, the traitor and rebel. That morning, the 2nd of 
the Moon, audience was given to the reformer Lin Hsii and 
to Yiian Shih-k’ai, who again assured the Emperor of hiS 
complete devotion. His Majesty then left for the For- 

^ K’ang's subsequent escape under British protection, in which one of 
the writers was instrumental, is graphically described in despatch No. 401 
of Blue Book No. i of 1899. 


bidden City, intending to carry out his plans against the 
Empress from there rather than from the Summer Palace, 
where nearly every eunuch was a spy in her service. 

It is evident that, so far, the Emperor by no means 
despaired of his chances of success, as two Decrees were 
issued next morning, one ordering the teaching of 
European languages in the public schools, and the other 
requiring purer administration on the part of district 

On the morning of the 5th, Yiian Shih-k’ai had a final 
audience, before leaving for Tientsin. His Majesty 
received him in the Palace of Heavenly Purity (Ch’ien 
Ch’ing Kung) of the Forbidden City. Every precaution 
was taken to prevent the conversation being overheard. 
Seated for the last time on the great lacquered Dragon 
Throne, so soon to be reoccupied by the Empress Dowager, 
in the gloomy throne room which the morning light could 
scarcely penetrate. His Majesty told Yiian Shih-k’ai the 
details of the commission with which he had decided to 
entrust him. He was to put Jung Lu to death and then, 
returning immediately to the capital with the troops under 
his command, to seize and imprison the Empress Dowager. 
The Emperor gave him a small arrow, the symbol of his 
authority to carry out the Imperial orders, and bade him 
proceed with all haste to Tientsin, there to arrest Jung Lu 
in his Yam^n and see to his instant decapitation. Kuang 
Hsii also handed him a Decree whereby, upon completion 
of his mission, he was appointed Viceroy of Chihli ad 
interim^ and ordered to Peking for further audience. 

Yiian promised faithful obedience, and, without speaking 
to anyone, left Peking by the first train. Meantime the 
Old Buddha was due to come in from the I-ho Yiian to the 
Winter Palace that morning at 8 o’clock, to perform 
sacrifice at the altar to the God of Silkworms, and the 
Emperor dutifully repaired to the Ying Hsiu Gate of the 
Western Park, where the Lake Palace is situated, to receive 
Her Majesty as she entered the precincts. 

Yiian reached Tientsin before noon, and proceeded at 
once to Jung Lu’s Yam6n. He asked Jung Lu whether he 

THE COUP D^iTAT OF 1898 141 

regarded him as a faithful blood brother, (The two men 
had taken the oath of brotherhood several years before,) 
“Of course I do,” replied the Viceroy. “You well may, for 
the Emperor has sent me to kill you, and instead, I now 
betray his scheme, because of my loyalty to the Empress 
Dowager and of my affection for you.” Jung Lu, appar- 
ently unaffected by the message, merely expressed surprise 
that the Old Buddha could have been kept in ignorance 
of all these things, and added that he would go at once to 
the capital and see the Empress Dowager that same 
evening. Yiian handed him the Emperor’s Decree, and 
Jung Lu, travelling by special train, reached Peking soon 
after 5 p.m. 

He went directly to the Lake Palace, and entered the 
Empress’s residence, boldly disregarding the strict 
etiquette which forbids any provincial official from visiting 
the capital without a special summons by Edict, and the 
still stricter rules that guard the entree of the Palace. 
Unushered he entered the Empress’s presence, and ko- 
towing thrice, exclaimed, “Sanctuary, Your Majesty I ” 
“What sanctuary do you require in the Forbidden pre- 
cincts, where no harm can come to you, and where you 
have no right to be?” replied the Old Buddha. Jung Lu 
proceeded to lay before her all the details of the plot. 
Grasping the situation and rising immediately to its 
necessities with the courage and masculine intelligence 
that enabled her to overcome all obstacles, she directed 
him to send word secretly to the leaders of the Conserv^a- 
tive party, summoning them to immediate audience in the 
Palace by the Lake. (The Emperor was still in the For- 
bidden City.) In less than two hours the whole of the 
Grand Council, several of the Manchu princes and nobles 
(Prince Ch’ing, with his usual fine “flair” for a crisis, 
had applied for sick leave and was therefore absent) and 
the high officials of the Boards, including the two Ministers 
whom the Emperor had cashiered (Hsii Ying-ku’ei and 
Huai Ta Pu) were assembled in the presence of the 
Empress. On their knees, the assembled officials besought 
her to resume the reins of government and to save their 


anci^0t Empire from the evils of a barbarian civilisation. 
It was speedily arranged that the guards in the Forbidden 
City should be replaced by men from Jung Lu’s own corps, 
and that, in the meantime, he should return to his post in 
Tientsin and await further orders. The conference broke 
up at about midnight. The Emperor was due to enter the 
Chung Ho Hall of the Palace at 5.30 the next morning to 
peruse the litany drawn up by the Board of Rites, which he 
was to recite next day at the autumnal sacrifice to the 
Tutelary Deities. After leaving that hall, he was seized by 
the guards and eunuchs, conveyed to the Palace on the 
small island in the middle of the lake (the “Ocean 
Terrace **) and informed that the Empress Dowager 
would visit him later. The following Decree was there- 
upon issued by the Empress Dowager in the Emperor’s 
name : — 

“The nation is now passing through a crisis, and wise 
guidance is needed in all branches of the public service. Wb 
ourselves have laboured diligently, night and day, to perform 
Our innumerable duties, but in spite of all Our anxious energy 
and care We are in constant fear lest delay should be the un- 
doing of the country. We now respectfully recall the fact that 
Her Imperial Majesty the Empress Dowager has on two 
occasions since the beginning of the reign of H. M. T’ung-Chih, 
performed the functions of Regent, and that in her adminis- 
trations of the Government she displayed complete and admir- 
able qualities of perfection which enabled her successfully to 
cope with every difficulty that arose. Recollecting the serious 
burden of the responsibility We owe to Our ancestors and to 
the nation, We have repeatedly besought Her Majesty to 
condescend once more to administer the Government, Now 
she has graciously honoured Us by granting Our prayer, a 
blessing indeed for all Our subjects. From this day forth Her 
Majesty will transact the business of Government in the side 
hall of the Palace, and on the day after to-morrow We ourselves 
at the head of Our Princes and Ministers shall perform obeisance 
before Her in the Hall of Diligent Government. The Yamtos 
concerned shall respectfully make the arrangements necessary 
for this ceremonial. The words of the Emperor.” 

Another Decree followed close upon the above, cashief- 
ing the Censor Sung Po-lu, on the ground of his generally 
evil reputation and recommendation of bad characters (t.^. 


- THE COUP D’itAT OF 1898 

the reformer Liang Ch’i-ch’ao). The Empress had a 
special grudge against this Censor because he had ventured 
to impeach her morals in a recent memorial, but as he had 
taken no part in the conspiracy against her person she 
spared bis life. 

Tzu Hsi in due icourse proceeded to the “Ocean 
Terrace/* accompanied only by Li Lien-ying, who had 
been ordered to replace the Emperor’s eunuchs by creatures 
of hfs own. (Kuang Hsii’s former attendants were either 
put to death or banished to the post roads.) A Manchu 
who heard an account of the interview from Duke Kuei 
Hsiang, Tzu Hsi’s younger brother, is our authority for 
what occurred at this dramatic meeting. The Empress 
Dowager bluntly informed Kuang Hsii that she had 
decided to spare his life and, for the present at any rate, 
to allow him to retain the throne. He would, however, 
be kept henceforward under strict surveillance, and every 
word of his would be reported to her. As to his schemes 
of reform, which at first she had encouraged, little dream- 
ing to what depths of folly his infatuate presumption would 
lead him, they would all be repealed. How dared he forget 
what great benefits he owed her, his elevation to the throne 
and her generosity in allowing him to administer the 
government, he a poor puppet, who had no right to be 
Emperor at all, and whom she could unmake at will? 
There was not, she said, a single Manchu in high place but 
wished his removal, and urged her to resume the Regency. 
True, he had sympathisers among the Chinese, traitors 
all; with them she would deal in due course. Kuang 
Hsii’s secondary consort (the Chen Fei or Pearl Concu- 
bine, the only one of his wives with whom he seems to 
have been on affectionate terms) knelt then before Tzu Hsi, 
imploring her to spare the Emperor further reproaches. 
She actually dared to suggest that he was, after all, the 
lawful Sovereign and that not even the Empress Dow^iger 
' could set aside the mandate of Heaven. Tzu H§i angrily 
dismissed her from the Presence, ordering her to be con- 
fined in another part of the Palace, where she remained 
until, in 1900, there came an. opportunity in which the 


vindictive Empress took summary revenge on the pre- 
sumptuous concubine.^ 

The Empress Consort, with whom Kuang Hsii was 
hardly on speaking terms, was commanded to remain with 
him. She, as Tzii Hsi*s niece, could be trusted to spy 
upon the Emperor and report all% his doings. He was 
allowed to see no one but her and the eunuchs in attend- 
ance, except in the presence of the Empress Dowager. 

To the end of his life Kuang Hsii blamed Yiian Shih- 
k’ai, and him alone, for having betrayed him. To Yuan 
he owed his humiliation, the end of all his cherished plans 
of government and the eighteen months of solitary con- 
finement which he had to endure on the “Ocean Terrace.” 
Almost his last words, as he lay dying, were to bid his 
brothers remember his long agony and promise to be 
revenged upon the author of his undoing. Of Jung Lu 
he said that it was but natural that he should consider 
first his duty to the Empress Dowager and seek to warn 
her; and, after all, as he had planned Jung Lu’s death, he 
could hardly expect from him either devotion or loyalty. 
The Old Buddha’s resentment was also natural ; he had 
plotted against her and failed. But Yiian Shih-k’ai had 
solemnly sworn loyalty and obedience. The Emperor 
never willingly spoke to him again, even when, as Viceroy 
of Chihli, Yiian came to the height of his power. 

For three years Yiian lived in retirement, and under the 
constant shadow of fear; for the Emperor’s brother, the 
Regent, kept his promise. Such were the intricate humani- 
ties of the inner circle around and about the Dragon 
Throne, the never-ending problem of the human equation 
as a factor in the destinies of peoples. 

1 She was thrown down a well, by Tzii Hsi’s orders, as the Court 
prepared for flight after the entrance of the allied forces into Peking. 
{Vide infra,) 



Kuang Hsu’s reign was over; there remained to him 
only the Imperial title. He had had his chance; in the 
enthusiasm of youth and new ideas he had played a 
desperate game against the powers of darkness in high 
places, and he had lost. Once more, as after the death of 
T’ung-Chih, Tzu Hsi could make a virtue of her satisfied 
ambitions. She had given her nephew a free hand, she 
had retired from the field, leaving him to steer the ship 
of State : if he had now steered it into troublous and 
dangerous seas, if, by common consent, she were again 
called to take the helm, this was the doing of Heaven and 
no fault of hers. She could no more be blamed for Kuang 
Hsii’s folly than for the vicious habits and premature death 
of her son, which had brought her back to power 23 
years before. It was clear (and there were many voices to 
reassure her of the fact) that the stars in their courses were 
working for the continuance of her unfettered authority, 
and that any trifling assistance which she might have 
given them would not be too closely scrutinised. 

Kuang Hsii’s reign was over; but his person (frail, 
melancholy tenement) remained, and Tzu Hsi was never 
enamoured of half measures or ambiguous positions. From 
the day when the pitiful monarch entered his pavilion 
prison on the “Ocean Terrace,” she began to make arrange- 
ments for his “mounting the Dragon” and “visiting the 
Nine Springs ” in the orthodox classical manner, and for 
providing the Throne with another occupant whos'e youth, 
connections and docility would enable her tp hold the 
Regency indefinitely. Nevertheless, because* of the tur- 
bulent temper of the southern provinces and possible 
manifestations of Europe’s .curious sympathy with the 
h 145 


Emperor’s Utopian dreams, she realised the necessity for 
proceeding with caution and decorum. It was commonly 
reported throughout the city in the beginning of October 
that the Emperor would die with the end of the Chinese 

Kuang Hsii was a prisoner in his Palace, doomed, as he 
well knew ; yet must he play the puppet Son of Heaven and 
perform each season’s appointed posturings. On the 8th 
day of the 8th Moon he appeared therefore, as ordered by 
his attendants, and in the presence of his whole Court 
performed the nine prostrations and other proper acts of 
obeisance before Her Majesty Tzu Hsi, in recognition of 
his own nonentity and her supreme authority. In the 
afternoon, escorted by a strong detachment of Jung Lu’s 
troops, he went from the Lake Palace to sacrifice at the 
Altar of the Moon. Thus, pending the coup-de-grdce, the 
wretched Emperor went through the empty ceremonies of 
State ritual ; high priest, that was himself to be the next 
victim, how bitter must have been his thoughts as he was 
borne back with Imperial pomp and circumstance to his 
lonely place of humiliation ! 

Tzu Hsi then settled down to her work of government, 
returning to it with a zest by no means diminished by the 
years spent in retreat. And first she must justify the policy 
of reaction to herself, to her high officials, and the world at 
large. She must get rid of offenders and surround herself 
with men after her own heart. 

A few days after the Autumn festival and the Emperor’s 
melancholy excursion, Her Majesty proceeded to remind 
the Imperial Clansmen that their position would not pro- 
tect them against the consequences of disloyalty ; she was 
always much exercised (remembering the Tsai Yiian con- 
spiracy) at any sign of intriguing amongst her Manchu 
kinsmen. In this case her warning took the form of a 
Decree in which she sentenced the “Beileh” Tsai Ch’u ^ 

^ It is interesting to note that this Manchu Prince (Tsai Ch*u) was 
released from prison by the Regent, the Emperor's brother, in January 
1909, and was appointed to the command of one of the Manchu Banner 
Corps on the same day that Yuan Shih-K'ai was dismissed from the 
viceroyalty of Chihli. The Emperor’s party, as opposed to the Yehonala 
Clan, heartily approved of his reinstatement 


to perpetual confinement in the “ Empty Chamber ” of the 
Clan Court.* Tsai Ch*u had had the audacity to sympathise 
with the Emperor’s reform schemes; he had also had the 
bad luck to marry one of Tzu Hsi’s nieces and* to be upon 
the worst of terms with her. When therefore he advised 
the Emperor, in the beginning of the Hundred Days, to 
put a stop, once and for all, to the Old Buddha’s inter- 
ference in State affairs, the “mean one of his inner 
chamber’’ did not fail to report the fact to Her Majesty, 
and thus to enlist her sympathies and activities, from the 
outset, on the side of the reactionaries. 

At the time immediately following the coup d^etat, public 
opinion at the Capital was divided as to the merits of the 
Emperor’s proposed reforms and the wisdom of their sup- 
pression, but the political instincts of the tribute-fed 
metropolis are, generally speaking, dormant, and what it 
chiefly respects is the energetic display of power. So that, 
on the whole, sympathy was with the Old Buddha. She 
had, moreover, a Bismarckian way of guiding public 
opinion, of directing undercurrents of information through 
the eunuchs and tea-house gossip, in a manner calculated 
to appeal to the instincts of the literati and the bourgeois; 
in the present instance stress was laid on the Emperor’s 
lack of filial piety, as proved by his plotting against his 
aged and august aunt (a thing unpardonable in the eyes 
of the orthodox Confucianist), and on the fact that he 
enjoyed the sympathy and support of foreigners — an 
argument sufficient to damn him in the eyes of even the 
most progressive Chinese. It came, therefore, to be the 
generally accepted opinion that His Majesty had shown 
deplorable want of judgment and self-control, and that the 
Empress Dowager was fully justified in resuming control 
of the government. This opinion even came to be 
accepted and expressed by those Legations which had 
originally professed to see in the Emperor’s reforms the 
dawn of a new era for China. So elastic is diplomacy in 
following the line of the least resistance, so adroit (in the 
absence of a policy of its own) in accepting and condoning 
any fait accompli^ that it was* not long before the official 
attitude of the Legations — including the British — had come 


to deprecate the Emperor’s unfortunate haste in introduc- 
ing reforms, reforms which every foreigner in China had 
urged for years, and which, accepted in principle by the 
Empress since 1900, have again been welcomed as proof 
of China’s impending regeneration. In June 1898, the 
British Minister had seen in the Emperor’s Reform Edicts 
proof that “the Court had at last thoroughly recognised 
a real need for radical reform.” ^ In October, when the 
Chief Reformer (K’ang Yu-wei) had been saved from Tzu 
Hsi’s vengeance by the British Consul-General at Shanghai 
and conveyed by a British warship to the protection of a 
British Colony (under the mistaken impression that 
England would actively intervene in the cause of progress 
and on grounds of self-interest if not of humanity), we find 
the tide of expediency turned to recognition of the fact that 
“the Empress Dowager and the Manchu party were 
seriously alarmed for their own safety, and looked upon the 
Reform movement as inimical to Manchu rule ” ! * And 
two months later, influenced no doubt by the impending 
season of peace and good will, the Marquess of Salisbury 
is seriously informed by Sir Claude Macdonald that the 
wives of the foreign Representatives, seven in all, had been 
received in audience by the Empress Dowager on the 
anniversary of her sixty-fourth birthday, and that Her 
Majesty “made a most favourable impression, both by the 
personal interest she took in all her guests and by her 
courteous amiability.” ^ On which occasion the puppet 
Emperor was exhibited, to comply with the formalities, 
and was made to shake hands with all the ladies. And so 
the curtain was rung down, and the Reform play ended, 
to the satisfaction of all (or nearly all) concerned. 

Nevertheless, the British Minister and others, disturbed 
at the persistent rumours that “the Empress Dowager was 
about to proceed to extreme steps in regard to the 
Emperor,” ^ went so far as to warn the Chinese Govern- 
ment against anything so disturbing to the European sense 
of fitness and decency. Foreign countries, the Yamfin 
was told, would view with displeasure and alarm his sudden 

1 Vide Blue Book China No. i of 1899, letters Nos. 266, 401, and 426. 

* Ibid, » Ibid. * Ibid. 


demise. When the news of the British Minister’s inter* 
vention became known in the tea-houses and recorded in 
the Press, much indignation was expressed: this was a 
purely domestic question, for which precedent!^ existed in 
plenty and in which foreigners’ advice was inadmissible. 
The Emperor’s acceptance of new-fangled foreign ideas was 
a crime in the eyes of the Manchus, but his enlistment of 
foreign sympathy and support was hateful to Manchus and 
Chinese alike. 

Matters soon settled down, however, into the old well- 
worn grooves, the people satisfied and even glad in the 
knowledge that the Old Buddha was once more at the 
helm. In the capital the news had been sedulously spread 
— in order to prepare the way for the impending drama 
of expiation — that Kuang Hsii had planned to murder 
Her Majesty, and his present punishment was therefore 
regarded as mild beyond his deserts.^ Scholars, compos- 
ing essays appropriate to the occasion, freely compared 
His Majesty to that Emperor of the T’ang Dynasty 
(a.d. 762) who had instigated the murdering of the Empress 
Dowager of his day. Kuang Hsii’s death was therefore 
freely predicted and its effects discounted; there is no doubt 
that it would have caused little or no comment in the north 
of China, however serious its consequences might have 
been in the south. The public mind having been duly 
prepared, the Empress Dowager, in the name of the pro- 
spective victim, issued a Decree stating that the Son of 
Heaven was seriously ill; no surprise or apprehension 
was expressed, and the sending of competent physicians 
from the provinces to attend His Majesty was recognised 
as a necessary concession to formalities. “Ever since the 
4th Moon,” said this Decree (i. e, since the beginning of 
the hundred days of reform), “ I have been grievously ill ; 
nor can I find any alleviation of my sickness.” It was the 
pro forma announcement of his impending despatch,^ and 
as such it was received by the Chinese people. 

* As an example of Chinese official methods : the Shanghai Taotai 
when requesting the British Consul-Generals assistance to arrest K^ang 
Yu-wei, did not hesitate to say that the Emperor was dead, murdered by 
the Chief Reformer. VtWe Blue Book No. i of 1899, letter No. 401. 


But the sentence was not carried out. The Emperor 
lived to see the New Year and thereafter to regain his 
strength, a result due in some degree to the Empress 
Dowager’s 'genuine fear of foreign intervention, but chiefly 
to her recognition of the strength of public opinion against 
her in the south of China and of the expediency of con- 
ciliating it. In the Kuang provinces there was no doubt 
of the bitterly anti-Manchu feeling aroused by the execution 
of the Cantonese reformers : these turbulent southerners 
were fierce and loud in their denunciations of the Manchus 
and all their works, and it would not have required much to 
fan the flames of a new and serious rebellion. The south 
was well aware, for news travels swiftly in China, that the 
Emperor’s life was in danger arid that the close of the 
year was the time fixed for his death, and from all sides 
protests and words of warning came pouring from the pro- 
vinces to the capital, addressed not only to the metropolitan 
boards but to the Throne itself. Amongst these was a 
telegram signed by a certain Prefect of Shanghai named 
Ching Yiian-shan, who, in the name of “all the gentry, 
scholars, merchants and public of Shanghai,” referred to 
the Edict which announced the Emperor’s illness and 
implored the Empress, the Clansmen and the Grand 
Council to permit his sacred Majesty to resume the govern- 
ment “notwithstanding his indisposition,” and to abandon 
all thoughts of his abdication. He described the province 
of Kiangsu as being in a state of suppressed ferment and 
frankly alluded to the probability of foreigners intervening 
in the event of the Emperor’s death. Tzu Hsi was much 
incensed with this courageous official, not because he 
actually threatened her of premeditating murder, but be- 
cause he dared threaten her with its consequences. She 
gave orders that he be summarily cashiered, whereupon, 
fearing further manifestations of her wrath, he fled to 
Macao. But his bold words undoubtedly contributed to 
saving the Emperor’s life. 

Of all the high provincial authorities, one only was 
found brave and disinterested enough to speak on behalf 
of the Emperor; this was Liu K’un-yi, the Viceroy of 


Nanking. He was too big a man to be publicly rebuked 
at a time like this and Tzu Hsi professed to admire his 
disinterested courage ; but she was highly incensed at his 
action, which contrasted strongly with the aStute oppor- 
tunism of his colleague, the scholarly magnate Chang 
Chih-tung, Viceroy of Wuch’ang, who had been an ardent 
advocate of the reformers so long as the wind blew fair in 
that quarter. Only six months before he had recommended 
several progressive (amongst them his own secretary, Yang 
Jui) to the Emperor’s notice, and just before the storm 
burst he had been summoned to Peking by Kuang Hsii to 
support His Majesty’s policy as a member of the Grand 
Council. No sooner had the Empress Dowager declared 
herself on the side of the reactionaries, however, and the 
Emperor had failed in his attempt to win over Yiian Shih- 
k’ai and his troops, than Chang telegraphed to the Old 
Buddha warmly approving her policy, and urging strong 
measures against the reformers. The advice was super- 
fluous; Tzu Hsi, having put her hand to the plough, was 
not the woman to remove it before her work was well 

On the iith day of the 8th Moon, she summoned Jung 
Lu to the capital to assist her in stamping out the reform 
movement. The Board of Punishments had just sent in a 
memorial urging the appointment of an Imperial Commis- 
sion for the trial of K’ang Yu-wei’s colleagues. Tzu Hsi, 
in reply, directed them to act in consultation with the 
Grand Council and to cross-examine the prisoners “with 
the utmost severity.” At the same time she ordered the 
imprisonment in the Board’s gaol of Chang Yin-huan,^ 

^ Chang Yin-huan, who had been created a Knight Grand Cross of St. 
Michael and St. George in connection with Queen Victoria’s Jubilee 
celebration, was subsequently put to death, after banishment to Turke- 
stan. An order given by Prince Tuan at the commencement of the 
Boxer crisis was the immediate cause of his execution. 

Another reformer named Hsii Chih-ching was condemned to imprison- 
ment for life in the Board of Punishments under this same Decree ; he 
was released by the Allies in August 1900, when he proceeded at once to 
Tai-Yuan fu, and handed himself over to justice, disdaining to accei^t his 
release at the hands of foreigners. This incident is typical of the Chinese 
officials* attitude of mind and of their reverence for the Decrees of the 
head of the State. 


the Emperor’s trusted adviser and friend who, she 
observed, “bears an abominable reputation.” This Edict 
took occasion to state that the Throne, anxious to temper 
justice with mercy, would refrain from any general pro- 
scription or campaign of revenge, “although fully aware 
that many prominent scholars and officials had allowed 
themselves to be corrupted by the reformers.” 

The Empress’s next step, advised by Jung Lu, was to 
issue a Decree, in the name of the Emperor, in which she 
justified the policy of reaction and reassured the Conserva- 
tive party. The document was an excellent example of her 
methods. While the Emperor was made to appear as con- 
vinced of the error of his ways, all blame for the “feelings 
of apprehension ” created by the reform movement was rele- 
gated to “our officials’ failure to give effect to our orders 
in the proper way,” so that everybody’s “face” was 

Shortly afterwards Jung Lu was raised to membership 
of the Grand Council, and given supreme command of the 
northern forces and control of the Board of War ; he thus 
became the most powerful official in the Empire, holding a 
position for which no precedent existed in the annals of 
the Manchu Dynasty. He had once more proved loyal to 
the Empress and faithful to the woman whom he had 
served since the days of the flight to Jehol; and he had 
his reward. It was natural, if not inevitable, that the part 
played by Jung Lu in the crisis of the coup d^etat should 
expose him to severe criticism, especially abroad; but, 
from the Chinese official’s point of view, his action in sup- 
porting the Empress Dowager against her nephew, the 
Emperor, was nothing more than his duty, and as a states- 
man he showed himself consistently moderate, sensible, 
and reliable. The denunciations subsequently poured 
upon him by the native and foreign Press at the time of 
the Boxer rising were the result, partly of the unrefuted 
falsehoods disseminated by K’ang Yu-wei and his 
followers, and partly of the Legations’ prejudice (thence 
arising) and lack of accurate information. As will here- 
after be shown, all his efforts were directed towards stem- 


ming the tide of that fanatical outbreak and restraining his 
Imperial mistress from acts of folly. Amidst the cowardice, 
ignorance and cruelty of the Manchu Clansmen his fore- 
sight and courage stand out steadily in welcome 'relief ; the 
only servant of the Throne during Tzu Hsi’s long rule who 
approaches him in administrative ability and disinterested 
patriotism is Tseng Kuo-fan. From this time forward 
until his death (1903) we find him ever at Tzu Hsi’s right 
hand, her most trusted and efficient adviser ; and her choice 
was well made. As will be seen in a later chapter, there 
was a time in 1900, when the Old Buddha, distraught by 
the tumult and the shouting, misled by her own hopes, 
her superstitious beliefs and the clamorous advice of her 
kinsfolk, allowed Prince Tuan and his fellow fanatics to 
undermine for a little while Jung Lu’s influence. Never- 
theless (as will be seen by the diary of Ching Shan) it was 
to him that she always turned, in the last resort, for counsel 
and comfort ; it was on him that she leaned in the dark hour 
of final defeat, — and he never failed her. She lived to 
realise that the advice which he gave, and which she some- 
times neglected, was invariably sound. Amidst all the 
uncertainties of recent Chinese history this much is certain, 
that the memory of Jung Lu deserves a far higher place 
in the esteem of his countrymen and of foreigners than it 
has hitherto received. Unaware himself of many of the 
calumnies that had been circulated about him at the time 
of the Court’s flight, he was greatly hurt, and his sense of 
justice outraged, by the cold reception given him by the 
Legations after the Court’s return to Peking. Thereafter, 
until his death, he was wont to say to his intimate friends 
that while he would never regret the stand he had taken 
against the Boxers, he could not understand or forgive the 
hostility and ingratitude shown him by foreigners. “It 
was not for love towards them,” he observed, on one occa- 
sion recorded, “that he had acted as he did, but only 
because of his devotion to the Empress Dowager and the 
Manchu Dynasty ; nevertheless, since his ^tion had’ 
coincided with the interests of the foreigner, he was entitled 
jto some credit for it.” 


The Empress Dowager consulted long and earnestly with 
Jung Lu as to the punishment to be inflicted upon the 
reformers. He advocated strong measures of repression, 
holding that the prestige of the Manchu Dynasty was 
involved. The six prisoners were examined by the Board 
of Punishments, and Jung Lu closely questioned them as 
to K’ang Yu-wei*s intentions in regard to the Empress 
Dowager. Documents found in K*ang's house had 
revealed every detail of the plot; thereupon the Grand 
Council recommended the execution of all the prisoners. 
There being no doubt that they had been guilty of high 
treason against Her Majesty, it seemed clearly inadvisable 
to prolong the trial, especially as there was undoubtedly a 
risk of widening the breach between Manchus and Chinese 
by any delay in the proceedings, at a time when party 
spirit was running high on both sides. The Old Buddha 
concurred in the decision of the Grand Council, desiring 
to terminate the crisis as soon as possible ; accordingly, on 
the 13th day of the Moon, the reformers were executed. 
They met their death bravely, their execution outside the 
city being witnessed by an immense crowd. It was reported 
that amongst the papers of Yang Jui were found certain 
highly compromising letters addressed to him by the 
Emperor himself, in which the Empress Dowager was 
bitterly denounced. There was also a Memorial by Yang 
impeaching Her Majesty for gross immorality and illicit 
relations with several persons in high positions, one of 
whom was Jung Lu; this document had been annotated in 
red ink by the Emperor himself. It quoted songs and 
ballads current in the city of Canton, referring to Her 
Majesty’s alleged vicious practices, and warned the Em- 
peror that, if the Manchu dynasty should come now to its 
end, the fault would lie as much with Tzii Hsi and her evil 
deeds as was the case when the Shang dynasty (of the 
1 2th century B.c.) fell by reason of the Emperor Chou 
Hsin’s infatuation for his concubine Ta Chi, whose orgies 
are recorded in history. Yang Jui had compared the Em- 
press Dowager’s life at the Summer Palace with the enorm- 
ities committed by this infamous concubine in her palace 


by the ‘‘Lake of Wine”; small wonder then, said Tzu 
Hsi’s advocates in defence of drastic measures, that, having 
seen for herself in the Emperor’s own handwriting, that 
these treasonable utterances met with his favour and sup- 
port, Her Majesty was vindictively inclined and deter- 
mined to put an end, once and for all, to his relations with 
the Reform party. 

The Edict which ordered the execution of the Reform 
leaders was drafted by the Empress Dowager herself with 
the aid of Jung Lu, but with cynical irony it was issued in 
the name of the Emperor. It was written in red ink as an 
indication of its special importance, a formality usually 
reserved for decrees given by the Sovereign under his own 
hand. After laying stress upon the necessity for intro- 
ducing reforms in the country’s administration, and on 
the anxiety felt by the Throne in regard to the increasing 
difficulties of government, this Decree proceeded to state 
that K’ang Yu-wei and his followers, taking advantage of 
the necessities of the moment, had entered into a rebellious 
conspiracy, aiming at the overthrow of the Throne itself ; 
fortunately, their treacherous intentions had been disclosed, 
and the whole plot revealed. 

The Decree then proceeded to award the death penalty to 
K’ang Yu-wei’s colleague, Liang Ch’i-ch’ao, a scholar of 
the highest repute, who subsequently found a refuge in 
Japan, and there edited a newspaper of high and well- 
deserved reputation. Next in order of importance were the 
three Secretaries of the Grand Council, who were awaiting 
the result of their trial in the Board of Punishments. The 
Edict added that any delay in their execution might, in the 
opinion of the Grand Council, lead to a revolutionary 
movement, and for this reason further formalities of justice 
in regard to all six prisoners were dispensed with, and their 
summary decapitation ordered. 

Despite the Throne’s “all abounding clemency.” and 
Tzu Hsi’s declared intention to take no steps beyond the 
execution of the six reform leaders, her “divi^ wfath” 
continued to be stirred up by the recollection of the personal 
attacks that had been made against her. Following imme- 


diately upon the Decree above mentioned, came another, 
whereby Chang Yin-huan was sentenced to banishment to 
the New Dominion on a vague charge of the usual classical 
type. His real offence lay in that he had denounced the 
Empress Dowager for extravagance, and she was the more 
embittered against him because the British Minister had 
presumed to intervene with a plea for his life. 

In another Decree the proposed visit to Tientsin was 
cancelled, at the earnest request of Jung Lu, who dreaded 
the possibility of an attempt on the life of the Empress 
Dowager. Her feminine curiosity had been stirred by the 
prospect of a visit to the Treaty port and a change from 
the seclusion of Peking, but she yielded to the advice of 
the Commander-in-Chief. At the same time military 
reorganisation was pressed forward with the greatest 
energy, and the occasion was taken to bestow largesse on 
the Chihli troops. 

Upon Jung Lu coming to Peking, Yii Lu was appointed 
to succeed him as Viceroy of Chihli. This bigoted official 
enjoyed in a large measure the confidence of the Empress 
Dowager. Unusually ignorant, even for a Manchu, and 
totally devoid of ability, he was subsequently responsible 
for the growth of the Boxer movement in and around Tient- 
sin. At this particular crisis, however, distrust of the 
Chinese was rife, and the Old Buddha felt that the presence 
of a Manchu Viceroy to control the Metropolitan Province 
was necessary to prevent any organised movement by the 

By this time the violent measures of the reactionary party 
had aroused a storm of indignation in the South, where 
societies were being organised in support of His Majesty 
Kuang-Hsii. Newspapers published in the foreign settle- 
ments at Shanghai repeated daily the wildest and bitterest 
denunciations against Her Majesty and Jung Lu, the latter 
being specially singled out for attack. The writers of these 
articles, evidently inspired by the fugitive reform leaders, 
declared that the movement in Peking was essentially anti- 
Chinese, and that it would undoubtedly end in the appoint- 
ment of Manchus to all important posts in the Empire. On 


the other hand, anti-foreign disturbances were fomented 
in several provinces by those who believed that the Empress 
Dowager would be gratified by these manifestations of 
public feeling. This state of affairs was undoubtedly 
fraught with serious danger, to which the attention of the 
Empress Dowager was drawn in a very plain-spoken 
Memorial by a Censor and Imperial Clansman named Hui 

The memorialist congratulated the Throne upon the 
energetic and successful suppression of K’ang Yu-wei*s 
treason, an achievement which would redound for ever to 
the fame of the Old Buddha. He then referred to the 
general futility of Edicts, and advised that special honours 
should be accorded to a few selected Chinese of undoubted 
loyalty and orthodoxy, by which means public opinion 
would be reassured. He justly observed that, if those who 
had been guilty of high treason had been made to suffer 
the penalty, those who had been consistently loyal should 
be suitably rewarded. He advised that all those who, 
during the past few months, had sent in Memorials de- 
nouncing the reform movement and rebuking the corrupt 
tendencies of the so-called new scholarship, should be 
advanced in the public service. Finally, he made the 
significant observation, that loyalty and patriotism when 
displayed by Chinese subjects were of greater value to the 
integrity of the Empire than these virtues when displayed 
by Maftchus, an indication of statecraft likely to appeal to 
the acute intelligence of the Old Buddha. The Empress 
Dowager’s reply, while ostensibly in the nature of a rebuke, 
was marked by unusual evasiveness on the subject actually 
at issue. She laid stress only on the strict impartiality of 
the Throne’s decision, professing to be animated by feel- 
ings of abstract justice, and to be free from all manner of 
prejudice, whether against Manchus or Chinese. The 
Memorialist was, however, shortly afterwards promoted, 
and as proof of her impartiality, the Empress Dowager pro- 
ceeded, on the same day, to dismiss half-a-dozen ‘high 
officials, one of whom was a Manchu ; and on the ground 
that Jung Lu himself had recommended one of the re- 


formers for employment, she ordered that he too be referred 
to the Board of Civil Appointments for the determination 
of a suitable penalty. This was merely “saving face.** 

Stirredj as usual, to activity by anything in the nature 
of criticism, Her Majesty now issued Decrees in rapid suc- 
cession. One of these declared the necessity for adequate 
protection of foreigners in the interior and for the Lega- 
tions in Peking ; another took the form of a homily to the 
Provincial Authorities in regard to the selection of sub- 
ordinate officials. A third called for advice from the Pro- 
vincial Viceroys and Governors, but they were told, at the 
same time, to avoid criticising on party grounds because 
“the Throne was fully aware of the motives which usually 
inspire such attacks.” 

Subsequently, the Empress Dowager took occasion in a 
homily on the whole art of government, to place on record 
a defence of her policy as head of the Manchus in China. 
The following extract from this Decree is worth quoting : — 

“The test of good government has always been the absence 
of rebellion; a State which takes adequate measures for self- 
defence can never be in serious danger. By the accumulated 
wisdom of six successive Sovereigns, our dynasty has succeeded 
in establishing a system of government, based on absolute 
justice and benevolence, which approaches very nearly to per- 
fection. It has been our pleasure to grant immediate relief in 
times of flood and famine. When rivers burst their banks, our 
first thought has ever been the safety of our people. Never 
have we resorted to conscription, or to the levying of corvies. 
We have always excluded Chinese women from service as 
subordinates in the Palace. Surely such evidences of bene- 
volent solicitude merit the hearty co-operation of all our subjects, 
and entitle us to expect that all our people, high and low, 
should peacefully pursue their business in life, so that all men, 
even the humblest labourers, may enjoy the blessings of peace. 
Is it any wonder then, that our soul is vexed when abominable 
treachery and the preaching of rebellion have been permitted to 
exist and to be spread broad-cast; when high officials, lacking 
all proper principles, have dared to recommend traitors to the 
Throne, in furtherance of their own evil designs? When we 
think of these things, our righteous indignation almost over- 
whelms us; nevertheless, we have granted a general amnesty, 
and will enquire no further into these base plottings.” 

The Decree concluded with the usual exhortation to the 
official class, and an appeal for the exercise of ideal virtue. 


Her Majesty’s next step vps to reinstate certain leading 
reactionaries, whom the Emperor had recently dismissed, 
notably Hsii Ying-k’uei, who had denounced the reformer 
Wang Chao. The Emperor’s party was now completely 
broken up, and he was left without supporters or friends 
in Peking. The Manchu Treasurer of Kansuh (Tseng Ho) 
was the last high official to speak in favour of the reform 
movement, or rather of one of its chief advocates, and, by 
so doing, to bring down upon him the wrath of the Old 
Buddha. The Memorial which brought about his summary 
dismissal from office, never again to be re-employed, 
referred in terms of regret to the disgrace of Weng T’ung- 
ho, the Emperor’s tutor. 

Her Majesty next turned her attention to the provinces, 
and administered a severe rebuke to Liu K’un-yi, who, on 
grounds of ill-health, had asked to be relieved of the Nank- 
ing Viceroyalty. Her Majesty, reminding him in the 
classical phraseology of the high favours showered upon 
him by the Throne, directed him to abstain from frivolous 
excuses and to continue in the performance of his duties, 
exercising more diligence therein, and more care in his 
selection of subordinate officials. 

The audacity of Weng T’ung-ho continued to rankle 
sorely in Her Majesty’s mind, and to allow him to con- 
tinue to live in honourable retirement in his native place 
without loss of rank or other punishment was not in accord- 
ance with her ideas of fitness; nor was it likely that Jung 
Lu, who had always borne a grudge against the Imperial 
tutor, would do anything to mitigate her wrath against 
him. In a Decree, issued in the name of the Emperor, she 
once more vented her spite on this aged and inoffensive 
scholar, in a manner highly characteristic of her tempera- 
ment, and ordered that he be cashiered, never again to be 
re-employed, and that henceforth he be held under close 
supervision of the local authorities and prohibited from 
creating trouble, as a warning to all double-minded officials 
for the future.” ^ 

^ Weng T’ungho was posthumously restored to his full rank and titles 
by a Decree of the Kegent. Thus was the Emperor tardily iustified and 
the pale ghosts of his followers continued to suffer, even in Hades, the 
chances and changes of Chinese official life I 


Weng T’ung-ho lived in his family home (Chang Shu 
in Kiangsu) until June, 1904, beloved and respected by all 
who knew him. He was by no means a nonentity like most 
of the aged officials near the Throne, but rather a person of 
considerable force of character, and after his dismissal lived 
always in the hope that he might yet return to serve the 
Emperor and the cause of reform upon the death of the 
Old Buddha. Meanwhile, he became a source of consider- 
able trouble and anxiety to the District Magistrate of his 
native place, as he made it his practice to call on that 
official three times a month, and, in the guise of a sup- 
pliant, to address him, thus, on his knees: “You have 
orders from the Throne secretly to keep watch over my 
conduct, and I therefore now attend, as in duty bound, to 
assist you in carrying out these orders.” As the Magistrate 
could never be certain that the once all-powerful Grand 
Secretary might not return to power, his own position was 
evidently one of considerable embarrassment, especially 
as the Weng family was the most important of the whole 
neighbourhood. In the intervals of baiting local officials, 
the Grand Secretary spent his time in scholarly retirement, 
and a volume of the letters written by him at this period 
has since been published; they show the man in a most 
attractive light, as a scholar and a poet ; his light and easy 
style, combined with a tendency to mysticism and philo- 
sophic speculation, has always been highly appreciated by 
the literati. As his fortune had not been taken from him, 
his old age was probably happier in his native place than 
had it been exposed to the intrigues and hard work of 
official life at the Capital ; and he died in the enjoyment of 
a reputation for patriotism and intelligence which extended 
far beyond his native province, and which, since his death, 
has greatly increased. 

The Empress Dowager, realising that the loyalty of the 
literati had been greatly shaken by the Emperor’s abolition 
of the old system of classical studies and public examina- 
tions, proceeded to reverse His Majesty’s decision in a 
Decree which thoroughly delighted the Conservative Party. 
Scholars throughout the country praised it in unmeasured 


terms, as a striking example of the Old Buddha’s acute 
reasoning powers. To a certain extent it may be admitted 
that the new system of examinations introduced by the 
Emperor had led, at the outset, to abuses which were absent 
under the old classical system, where the anonymity of 
candidates was a cardinal principle. Her Majesty dealt 
with the question by ordering — 

“that, for the future, the old system shall be restored, and that 
public examinations shall henceforward consist of themes and 
extracts from the Classics. A special examination for students 
of political economy, lately authorised, has been shown to be 
productive of evil, and is therefore abolished. It is the wish 
of the Throne that these public examinations shall be in 
reality a sound test of merit. Examiners and candidates alike 
should avoid meretricious adornments of style, and endeavour 
to conform strictly to the classical models.** 

Souvent femme varie, and the mind of Tzu Hsi never ran 
consistently for long in the same groove. Anxious always 
as to her popularity with all parties in the State, and with 
a view to adjusting that nice equilibrium of conflicting 
forces which constituted the pride of her statecraft and the 
strength of her rule, we find her next issuing a Decree 
which set forth the principles by which she professed to be 
guided. This Decree reflected a certain amount of anxiety 
and a doubt as to whether the punishment inflicted on the 
leading reformers might not be severely criticised by the 
outside world. 

Her Majesty next turned her attention to the necessities 
and distressing condition of her people at large, and 
ordered that measures should once more be taken to prevent 
the constant destruction of life and property by the Yellow 
River in Shantung Province. She was under no delusion 
as to the nature of the measures taken in the past to 
remedy “China’s Sorrow” which, from time immemorial 
has been the happy hunting-ground of peculating official- 
dom ; nor could she expect that her stereotyped exhortations 
to virtue in this matter would afford her subjects any* par- 
ticular gratification. Her Majesty alluded to the fact that* 
“frequent repairs to the banks of the Yellow River had 
not appeared to produce any permanent results,” but the 


remedy which she applied, viz., a consultation between the 
Grand Council and the various Ministries with the Censor- 
ate, was hot very reassuring. Nor was her subsequent 
decision to send Li Hung-chang, to estimate on the spot 
the sum required for the construction of effective river 
conservancy works, calculated to convince the public of the 
sincerity of her benevolent intentions. 

As in the days immediately following her first assump- 
tion of power after the overthrow of the Tsai Yiian con- 
spiracy in i86i, the Empress Dowager at this period dis- 
played remarkable activity in every direction, as is shown 
by the number of her Decrees at this period. After dealing 
with the Yellow River, she turned her attention to another 
permanent and crying evil, which for centuries has weighed 
heavily upon the lower classes of the Chinese people, viz., 
the interminable delay and heavy cost of legal proceedings 
and the hardships thus inflicted on all who may be com- 
pelled to seek justice at the hands of Chinese officials. 

Her Majesty, in her Edict on the subject, showed a very 
close knowledge of the abuses with which, indeed, all 
Chinese are fully acquainted, but which official documents 
usually ignore. It is no doubt largely to her frankness in 
cases of this kind that the Old Buddha’s widespread reputa- 
tion for good nature and tender-heartedness may be 
ascribed. Throughout the country, but especially in the 
north, it has always been the opinion of the peasantry and 
of the merchant class, that the Old Buddha was, if any- 
thing, too tender-hearted, and that her extreme mildness of 
disposition, though no doubt laudable, was on many occa- 
sions a source of danger. To her untimely “benevolence” 
the populace in Peking in 1900 undoubtedly ascribed the 
fact that the foreigners and native Christians were not 
massacred en masse before the arrival of the relief expedi- 
tion. In this Decree, on the subject of lawsuits. Her 
Majesty states that she has recently learned that legal pro- 
ceedings are frequently hung up for several months at a 
time, and that innocent persons have been detmned in 
custody for indefinite periods pending enquiry. 

The Empress Dowager was much incensed at the sym- 
pathy for the Emperor shown by foreigners both in China 


and abroad, a sympathy which was reflected for a time in 
the attitude of the British Minister and other members of 
the Diplomatic Body at Peking. Adopting, however, that 
policy of “conciliation pending a fitting opportunity for 
hostilities,” which (as will be seen in another place) she 
had learned from study of the classics, she invited the 
wives of the foreign Ministers and other Legation ladies to 
an audience in the Palace at the beginning of the winter, 
and treated them with such courtesy and consideration that 
she won their hearts in a day. That her friendliness was 
entirely assumed, we have learned from her own statements, 
and there is no doubt that, from this time forward, she 
came more and more under the influence of the chief 
reactionary Kang Yi, who, during the absence of Jung 
Lu on leave, was able to persuade her that the first essential 
towards improving the country’s military resources was the 
organisation of bands of militia throughout the Empire. 
By missionaries who were close observers of events in 
Shantung and other headquarters of this patriotic move- 
ment, it was soon realised that this military activity was 
directed primarily against foreigners, and owed its origin 
in the first instance to tlie Empress Dowager’s approval of 
Kang Yi’s policy of violent reaction. 

The Decrees issued at this period leave us in some doubt 
as to whether the Empress herself understood clearly the 
forces that were about to be let loose in these so-called 
military train-bands, and her subsequent vacillation in 
regard to the Boxers would seem to afford an indication, 
if not proof, that she acted impulsively and without full 
knowledge, under the influence of Kang Yi, But the 
question rapidly increased in importance, and gradually 
Her Majesty’s Decrees made it clccir that the potential 
power of the train-bands as a national force was gradually 
impressing itself upon her mind, where, as we know, the 
hope of revenge on foreigners was ever latent. Ojie Edict 
contained the following passage : — 

“ Recent events have caused me the greatest grief and 
anxiety ; by day and by night, in the seclusion of my Palace, 
my thoughts dwell on these matters, and my one object is 
to secure the tranquillity and prosperity of my subjects by the 


organisation of adequate military forces. My purposes, set 
forth in numerous Decrees, regarding the organisation of a 
strong army, the improvement of communications, and the 
formation of train-bands and militia, aim all at strengthening 
the Empire’ and promoting the contentment of my people.” 

After reiterating the substance of former Decrees, Her 
Majesty proceeds pathetically to complain “that they have 
to a large extent been ignored, or merely transmitted by 
one provincial authority to another, descending from the 
Governor to the District Magistrate through the usual 
routine channels, and eventually pigeon-holed as so much 
waste paper.** She admits frankly that this method of 
treating Imperial Decrees is quite usual, and that it has the 
sanction of tradition, but she insists that the time has come 
for a change, and therefore now directs that all her Decrees 
are in future to be printed on special Imperial yellow paper, 
and their contents made known throughout the length and 
breadth of the Empire. 

After further earnest exhortations to patriotism, and to 
that keen sense of duty which alone can develop efficiency 
in the public service, she directed that the local officials 
should keep closer touch with the gentry and the elders of 
the people, and that officers in command of military forces 
are to explain clearly to the rank and file the objects which 
Her Majesty has in view in deciding upon military 

Certain writers have pointed to the numerous and plain- 
spoken Decrees issued by Tzu Hsi at this period, as proof 
that her heart was really set upon effectively reforming 
the country’s administration, but it is always difficult for 
foreigners, and even for Chinese outside the Palace, to 
form any concise idea as to the inner meaning of these 
lucubrations, and how much of them was, on any particular 
occasion, to be taken as something outside of the traditional 
and stereotyped utterances of the Throne. It is certain 
that she herself failed to exercise the personal influence 
and example that would have convinced the world of her 
sincerity, and that she did nothing to put her house of the 
Forbidden City in order or to do away with the manifest 
and notorious abuses at her Court. 


The Old Buddha concluded this remarkable display of 
literary and political activity by returning once more to 
the grievance which rankled most deeply, viz., that the 
chief conspirator against her sacred authority and person 
had made good his escape. Professing to believe that the 
heinousness of K’ang Yu-wei’s crimes was not fully 
realised by her people, she issued another Decree on the 
subject, in December, as follows : — 

“T*an Chung-lin, Viceroy of Canton, has memorialised 
stating that he has brought to light, by searches at K*ang Yu- 
wei’s birthplace, a large quantity of documents, chiefly 
correspondence between the members of K’ang’s party, together 
with certain seals, made of stone ; all of which he has forwarded 
for our personal inspection. These letters contain a mass of 
treasonable matter. In one place the suggestion is actually 
made that T’an Ssu-t’ung (one of the reformers executed) 
should be nominated as President of the Chinese Republic I 
The writers ignore the present Dynasty even in dating their 
correspondence, and use instead a chronology which begins 
with the birth of Confucius; one of them has actually had the 
unbounded audacity to describe the present Dynasty as 
‘ perfectly useless. ' Abominable wickedness of this kind shows 
that these men were something worse than ordinary rebels and 
parricides. Their correspondence implicates an enormous 
number of persons, but, as the Throne desires to show mercy 
and to refrain from any further enquiry into this matter, the 
whole correspondence has now been burnt by our orders. 

“When first we stated in our Decrees the nature of the 
treasonable conspiracy that K’ang Yu-wei had organised and 
of his revolutionary programme, it was our object to nip 
rebellion in the bud. But it would appear, from information 
which has reached us, that certain misinformed people still 
hold to the opinion and express it, that K’ang Yu-wei was 
nothing worse than an over-zealous reformer. We mention 
therefore this matter of the correspondence of these traitors, 
as proving beyond possibility of doubt that K’ang Yu-wei 
was indeed a base and unnatural malefactor, and we feel 
convinced that our loyal subjects, from the highest to the lowest, 
realising this truth, will now relegate his revolutionary utter- 
ances to their proper position of insignificance. Thus shall 
right principles triumph and the wrong be wiped out.” 

Thus was Tzii Hsi established in her pride of place and 
thus were sown the seeds of that great upheaval which was 
soon to shake the Empire to its foundations. 



[Note. — Ching Shan, a Manchu of the Plain Yellow Banner Corps, 
was bom in 1823. In 1863 he became a Metropolitan Graduate and 
Han-lin Compiler, especially distinguished as a scholar in Sung philoso- 
phy. In the following year he was appointed a Junior Secretary of the 
Imperial Household (Nei wu fu), rising to Senior Secretary in 1869 
and Controller in 1879. His father, Kuang Shun, had held the post of 
Comptroller-General under the Emperor Tao-Kuang, with whom he was 
for years on terms of intimacy ; he was a kinsman of the Empress 
Dowager’s family and in close touch with all the leading Manchu nobles. 
Ching Shan had therefore exceptional opportunities of knowing all the 
gossip of the Court, of learning the opinions and watching the move- 
ments of the high officials, Chinese and Manchu, who stood nearest to 
the Throne. After holding office in several of the Metropolitan Boards, 
he retired in 1894, He was tutor to Prince Tuan, Duke Tsai Lan, and 
other sons of Prince Tun (younger son of the Emperor Tao-Kuang), and 
therefore intimately associated with the leaders of the Boxer movement. 

Seen even against the lurid background of the abomination of desola- 
tion which overtook Peking in 1900, Ching Shan’s fate was unusually 
tragic. Above the storm and stress of battle and sudden death, of 
dangers from Boxers, wild Kansuh soldiery and barbarian invaders, the 
old scholar’s domestic griefs, the quarrels of his women-folk, his son’s 
unfilial behaviour, strike a more poignant note than any of his country’s 
fast pressing misfortunes. And with good cause. On the 15th August, 
after the entry of the allied forces into Peking and the flight of the 
Empress Dowager, his wife, his senior concubine, and one of his 
daughters-in-law committed suicide. He survived them but a few hours, 
meeting death at the hands of his eldest son, En Ch’un, who pushed 
him down a well in his own courtyard. This son was subsequently shot 
by British troops for harbouring armed Boxers. 

The Diary was found by the translator in the private study of Ching 
Shan’s house on August 18th and saved, in the nick of time, from being 
burnt by a party of Sikhs. Many of the entries, which cover the period 
from January to August 1900, refer to trivial and uninteresting matters. 
The following passages are selected chiefly because of the light they throw 
on the part played by the Empress Dowager in that tragedy of midsummer 
madness — on the strong hand and statecraft of the woman, and on the 
unfathomable ignorance which characterises to-day the degenerate descen- 
dants of Nurhachi. It should be explained that Ching Shan 
who retired from office in 1894, must be distinguished from Ching Hsin 
m #)• who died about 1904. The latter was also a Manchu and a 

favourite of Tzu Hsi, well known to foreigners at the capital. He held 
various high posts, rose to be a Grand Secretary, and remained in Peking 
after the flight of the Court, in charge of the palace. It was he who 



escorted the Diplomatic Body through the deserted halls of the Forbidden 
City in September 1900. He was highly respected by all who knew him. 

Ching Shan, though of similarly high rank, was personally quite 
unknown to foreigners, but a short note on his career (and another on 
that of Ching Hsin) will be found in the “ List of the Higher Metropolitan 
and Provincial Officials ” periodically compiled by the Chinese Secretariat 
of the British Legation ; Edition of 1902, Kelly and Walsh, Shanghai.] 

2Sth Year of Kuang Hsu, 12th Moon, 2 $ih Day (25th 
January, 1900). — Duke Tsai Lan came to see me, his old 
tutor, to-day. He has much to tell me concerning the 
“Patriotic Harmony “ train-bands (I Ho T’uan) which have 
been raised in Shantung by Yii Hsien, the Governor. 
Later, he described yesterday’s audience at the palace ; in 
addition to the Grand Secretaries, the Presidents of Boards 
and the Ministers of the Household, the “Sacred Mother” 
received Prince Kung, his uncles Tsai Ying and Tsai Lien 
and Prince Tuan. The Old Buddha announced her inten- 
tion of selecting a new Emperor. She said : “The nation 
has shown resentment and reproached me for putting 
Kuang Hsii on the Throne, he being of the wrong genera- 
tion ; furthermore, he himself has shown great lack of filial 
duty to me notwithstanding the debt of gratitude he owed 
me for my kindness in thus elevating him. Has he not 
plotted against me with traitors from the south? I now 
propose therefore to depose him and to place a new Em- 
peror on the Throne, whose accession shall take place on 
the first day of the New Year. It should be for you 
Ministers now to consider what title should be given to 
Kuang Hsii upon his abdication. There is a precedent 
for his removal from the Throne in the case of the Emperor 
Ching T’ai of the Ming Dynasty who was reduced to the 
rank of Prince and whose brother was restored to the 
Throne after twelve months of captivity among the Mon- 
gols.” There was dead silence for some time in the Hall of 
Audience. At last the Grand Secretary Hsii T’ung sug- 
gested as appropriate the title of “Hun-te-Kung,” which 
means, “The Duke of Confused Virtue” — or well-meaning 
bungler : — it had been given by the Mongol Dynasty to a 
deposed Sung Emperor. The Old Buddha approved. She 
then declared to the assembly that her choice of the new 


Emperor was already made; it had fallen upon the eldest 
son of Prince Tuan, whose great devotion to Her Majesty’s 
person was well known. Henceforward Prince Tuan 
should be in constant attendance at the Palace to supervise 
the education of his son. At this point the Grand Secretary 
Sun Chia-nai craved permission to speak. He implored 
the Empress not to depose the Emperor; of a certainty 
there would be rebellion in the Southern provinces. The 
choice of a new Sovereign rested with her, but it could 
only be done after **ten thousand years had elapsed” (i. e. 
after the death of the present Emperor). The “Motherly 
Countenance ” showed great wrath ; turning on Sun Chia^ 
nai, she bade him remember that'this was a family council 
to which she only admitted Chinese as an act of grace. 
She had already notified the Emperor of her intention, 
and he had no objections to offer. The Empress then 
ordered all present to repair to the Hall of Diligent Govern- 
ment there to await her and the Emperor, and upon their 
coming to witness the draft of the Decree appointing the 
Heir Apparent. The formal announcement of his acces- 
sion to the throne would be postponed until the first day 
of the New Year, 

They proceeded therefore to the entrance of the appointed 
Hall, and in a few minutes the Empress’s chair appeared 
at the gateway, when all knelt and “ko-towed ” three times. 
A number of eunuchs accompanied her, but she bade them 
remain without. She sent Major-domo Li Lien-ying to 
request the Emperor’s presence; he came in his chair, 
alighting at the outer gate, and “ko-towed ” to the Empress, 
who had taken her seat on the main throne within. She 
beckoned him to come to the Hall, and he knelt again, all 
officials still kneeling outside. Chin lai, pu yung kuei 
hsia (“Come in, you need not kneel ”), called Her Majesty. 
She bade him sit down, and summoned next the Princes 
and Ministers — some thirty in all — to enter. Again the Old 
Buddha repeated her reasons for the step she was taking. 
The Emperor only said : “What Your Majesty suggests is 
quite proper and in accordance with my views.” At this 
the Grand Secretary Jung Lu handed to the Empress the 


Decree which the Grand Council had drafted.^ She read 
it through and forthwith ordered its promulgation. No- 
thing was said to “The Lord of Ten Thousand Years” as 
to his being deposed ; only the selection of the Heir Appar- 
ent was discussed. The Grand Council then remained for 
further audience, but the Princes were ordered to withdraw, 
so that Duke Lan does not know what passed thereafter. 
The Emperor seemed dazed, as one in a dream. 

30ffc Day (30th January, 1900). — To-day Liu Shun 
shaved my head; he leaves to-night for his home at Pao- 
ti-hsien there to spend the new year. My eldest son, En 
Ch’un, is pressing me to give him fifty taels to buy an 
ermine cloak; he is a bad son and most undutiful. Chi 
Shou-ch’ing came to see me to-day, he has moved to “ Kuai 
Pang” Lane. He tells me that his father-in-law, Yii 
Hsien, is to be made Governor of Shansi. The Old 
Buddha has received him in audience since his removal 
from the Governorship of Shantung on account of the murder 
of a French ^ missionary, and praised him for the honesty 
and justice of his administration. She does not approve 
of the Big Sword Society's proposed extermination of 
foreigners, because she does not believe they can do it; 
Yii Hsien goes often to Prince Tuan’s palace, and they 
have many secret interviews. Prince Tuan declares that if 
he were made President of the Tsung-li Yamen he would 
make short work of all difficulties with foreigners. He is 
a violent man and lacking in refinement. 

1st Day of 26th Year of Kuang Hsil (31st January, 
1900). — To-day I am 78 years of age and my children mock 
me for being deaf. They are bad sons and will never rise 
so high as their father has done. When I was* their age, 
between 20 and 30, the Emperor Tao-Kuang had already 
praised my scholarship and presented me with a compli- 
mentary scroll bearing a quotation from the writings of 
the philosopher Chu. " . 

This year will witness many strange events;, the people 

^ The Decree is given at the end of this chapter. 

* The victim was Biitish, not French — viz. the Rev. Mr. Brooks, killed 
on December 31, 1899, just after Yii Hsien’s removal had been arranged. 


all say so. The eighth month is intercalary which, in a 
year that has “ Keng ” for its cyclical character, has ever 
been an evil omen. The New Emperor was to have been 
proclaimed to-day under the title of “Heng-Ching ’’ — “All- 
pervading Prosperity ” — but my son En Lin tells me that 
the new year sacrifices were performed by the Ta Age 
(Heir Apparent) at the Palace of Imperial Longevity, act- 
ing only as Deputy for the Emperor Kuang Hsii. The 
Ta Age is a boy of fourteen ; very intelligent, but violent- 
tempered. He walked on foot to the Palace Hall from the 
Coal Hill Gate. 

Sth Moon, $th Day: The Dragon Festival (ist June, 
1900).^ — Arose at six o’clock and was washing my face in 
the small inner room, when Huo Kuei, the gatekeeper, came 
in with the card of Kang Yi, the Grand Secretary, and a 
present of ten pounds of pork, with seasonable greetings. 
I was not aware that he had already returned from his 
journey to Cho Chou, whither he had gone with Chao 
Shu-ch’iao to examine and report on the doings of the 
“patriotic train-bands” {i.e. Boxers). He sends word by 
the messenger that he will call upon me this morning. 

My sons En Lin and En Ch’un are going to-day to a 
theatrical performance at Chi Shou-ch’eng’s residence. 
My youngest son, En Ming, is on duty at the Summer 
Palace, where, for the next four days, the Old Buddha will 
be having theatricals. I am surprised that Kang Yi is not 
out there also. No doubt he only returned to Pekmg last 
night, and so does not resume his place on the Council till 
to-morrow morning. 

The Hour of the Monkey (3 p.m.). — Kang Yi has been 
here and I persuaded him to stay for the mid-day meal. 
He is a worthy brother-in-law, and, though twenty years 
younger than I am, as wise and discreet a man as any on 
the Grand Council. He tells me that several hundred 
foreign devil troops entered the City yesterday evening. 
He and Chao Shu-ch’iao arrived at Peking at 4.30 p.m., 
and immediately set to composing their memorial to the 

^ Between January and June the entries are of no particular interest. 


Empress Dowager about the heaven-sent Boxers, for pre- 
sentation to-morrow morning. Prince Tuan has five days* 
leave of absence : Kang Yi went to see him yesterday 
evening. While they were discussing the situation, at the 
Prince’s own house, there came a Captain of Prince 
Ch’ing’s bodyguard with a message. Saluting Prince 
Tuan, he announced that about 300 foreign soldiers had 
left Tientsin in the afternoon as reinforcement for the 
Legation Guards. Prince Ch’ing implored Prince Tuan 
not to oppose their entry, on the ground that a few hundred 
foreigners, more or less, could make no difference. He 
trusted that Prince Tuan would give orders to his Corps 
(the “Celestial Tigers” Force) not to oppose the foreign 
devils. It was the wish of the Old Buddha that they 
should be permitted to guard the Legations. Prince Tuan 
asked for further details, and the Captain said that Prince 
Ch’ing had received a telegram from the Governor-General 
of Chihli (Yu Lu) to the effect that the detachment carried 
no guns. At this Prince Tuan laughed scornfully and 
said : “ How can the few resist the many ? What indeed will 
a hundred puny hobgoblins, more or less, matter ? ” Kang 
Yi, on the contrary, tells me that he strongly urged Prince 
Tuan to issue orders to Chung Li, the Commandant of the 
city, to oppose the entry of the foreign troops, but it 
appears that Jung Lu had already ordered their admission. 
Kang Yi is much incensed with Jung Lu about this, and 
cannot understand his motives. It seems that towards the 
close of last year Prince Tuan and Jung Lu had agreed to 
depose the Emperor and to put the Heir Apparent on the 
Throne, and Tuan confesses that, were it not for Jung Lu’s 
great influence with the Old Buddha she would never have 
agreed to select his son as Heir Apparent. But now Jung 
Lu is for ever denouncing the Boxers and warning the 
Empress against encouraging and countenancing them. 
Prince Tuan and Kang Yi despair of ever being *able to 
induce her to support the Boxers whole-heartedly so/long 
as Jung Lu is against them. As an example of Ker present 
attitude. Prince Tuan told Kang Yi one day lately that his 
son, the Ta Age, had dressed himself up as a Boxer and 


was going through their drill in the Summer Palace 
grounds with some eunuchs. The Old Buddha saw him 
and promptly gave orders that he be confined to his 
rooms. She also reprimanded the Grand Secretary, Hsu 
T’ung, for not keeping a better watch on his pupil and for 
permitting such unseemly behaviour, as she called it. 

After leaving Prince Tuan’s house, Kang Yi had gone 
out of the city by the Ch’ien Men and had seen the foreign 
troops pass in. The people muttered curses, he slays, but 
no one molested them. Wliat does it matter? None of 
them will ever leave the city. Kang Yi’s journey to Cho 
Chou has convinced him that the whole province stands 
together as one man ; even boys in their teens are drilling. 
Not a doubt of it; the foreigner will be wiped out this 
time ! At Cho Chou the Departmental Magistrate, a man 
named Kung, had arrested several Boxer leaders, but 
Kang Yi and Chao Shu-ch’iao ordered them to bfe released 
and made them go through their mystic evolutions and 
drill. It was a wonderful sight, scarcely to be believed; 
several of them were shot, some more than once, yet rose 
uninjured from the ground. This exhibition took place 
in the main courtyard of the Magistrate’s YamSn, in the 
presence of an enormous crowd, tight pressed, as conjpact 
as a wall. Chao Shu-ch’iao remembers having seen many 
years ago, in his native province of Shensi, a similar per- 
formance, and it is on record that similar marvels were seen 
at the close of the Han Dynasty, when Chang Chio headed 
the Yellow Turban insurrection against the Government 
and took many great cities with half a million of followers. 
They were said to be under the protection of the* Jade 
Emperor ^ and quite impervious to sword-thrusts. ^ Kdng 
Yi and Chao Shu-ch’iao will memorialise the Eitipress 
to-morrow, giving the results of their journey and begging 
her to recognise the “patriotic train-bands’’ as a branch of 
the army. But they should be placed under the supreme 
command of Prince Tuan and Kang Yi, as Jung Lu; the 
Commander-in-Chief of the Northern army, is so incredu- 
lous as to their efficacy against foreign troops. 

^ The Supreme Deity of the Taoists and tutelary spirit of the Boxers. 


Although Major-domo Li Lien-ying is a warm sup- 
porter of the Boxers, and never wearies of describing their 
feats to the Old Buddha, feats which he himself has wit- 
nessedi it is by no means certain that the “kindly. Mother” 
will heed him so long as Jung Lu is opposed to any official 
encouragement of the movement. And, besides, the nature 
of the Empress is peace-loving ; she has seen many springs 
and autumns. I myself know well her refined and gentle 
tastes, her love of painting, poetry, and the theatre. When 
in a good mood she is the most amiable and tractable of 
women, but at times her rage is awful to witness. My 
father was Comptroller-General of the Imperial House- 
hold, and it was his lot on one occasion to experience her 
anger. This was in the sixth year of T’ung Chih (1868), 
when she learned that the chief eunuch, “Hsiao AnVh,” ^ 
had been decapitated in Shantung by the orders of the 
Co-Regent, the late “Empress Dowager of the East.’* She 
accused the Comptrollers of the Household of being 
leagued together in treachery against her ; as they had not 
told her of what was going on she declared that Prince 
Rung was plotting against her life, and that all her attend- 
ants were associated in his treason. It was years before 
she forgave him. All An’s fellow-eunuchs were examined 
under torture by the Department responsible for the 
management and discipline of the Household. When the 
chief eunuch’s betrayer was discovered by this means, he 
was flogged to death by her orders in the Palace. But 
nowadays the Old Buddha’s heart has softened, even to- 
wards foreigners, and she will not allow any of them to be 
done at’way with. One word from her would be sufficient 
to bring about their immediate and complete destruction, 
so that neither dog nor fowl be left alive, and no trace be 
left of all their foreign buildings. Kang Yi stayed with 
me about two hours and left to go and see Prince Tuan, 
who was expecting Major-domo Li Lien-ying to come into 
the city this afternoon. 

K’un Hsiu, Vice-President of the Board ctf Works, ’ 
called to see me. He tells me that Prince Ch’ing habitually 
^ A nickname of An Te-hai, vide supra, pp. 55 segf. 


ridicules the Boxers in private conversation, declaring 
them to be utterly useless, and unworthy of even a smile 
from a wise man. In public, however, he is most cautious : 
last week when the Old Buddha asked his opinion of 
them he replied by vaguely referring to the possible value 
of train-bands for protection of the Empire. 

9 p.M. — My son En Ch’un has returned from Chi Shou- 
ch^eng’s theatricals; everyone was talking, he says, of 
Jung Lu’s folly in allowing the foreign troops to enter 
the city yesterday. Chi’s father-in-law, Yii Hsien, has 
written to him from vShansi saying that for the present 
there are but few Boxers enrolled in that province, but he 
is doing his best to further the movement, so that Shansi 
may unite with the other provinces of the north “to destroy 
those who have aroused the Emperor’s wrath.” By com- 
mon report, Yiian Shih-k’ai has now become a convert to 
Christianity : if he too were to suppress the movement in 
Shantung, not death itself could expiate his guilt. 

En Ch’un’s wife is most undutiful; this evening she has 
had a quarrel with my senior concubine, and the two 
women almost came to blows. Women are indeed difficult 
to manage ; as Confucius has said, “ Keep them at a dis- 
tance, they resent it; treat them familiarly, and they do not 
respect you.” I am seventy-eight years of age and sore 
troubled by my family; their conduct is hard for an old 
man to bear. 

i2th Day of the 5th Moon (June 8th, 1900). — My son, 
En Ming, came in this morning about midday ; as Officer 
of the Bodyguard he had been in attendance on the Em- 
press coming in from the Summer Palace. Jung Lu had 
been there yesterday morning and had had a long audience 
with Her Majesty. He gave her details of the burning of 
the railway by the Boxers. She was seriously alarmed 
and decided to return at once to the Winter Palace on the 
Southern Lake. It seems she cannot make up her mind 
as to the Boxers* invulnerability. Jung Lu has again 
applied for leave. When he is absent from the Grand 
Council, Kang Yi and Ch*i Hsiu have the greatest in- 
fluence with her. En Ming says that on the way to the 


city she kept urging the chair-bearers to hurry, and seemed 
out of sorts — nervously fanning herself all the time. At 
the Ying Hsiu gate of the Winter Palace the Emperor and 
the Heir Apparent were kneeling to receive her. No 
sooner had she reached the palace than she summoned 
Prince Tuan to audience, which lasted a long time. It is 
a pity that the Old Buddha will not decide and act more 
promptly. The Emperor never speaks at audience nowa- 
days, although Her Majesty often asks him for his opinion. 
Tung Fu«hsiang accompanied the Court into Peking; 
he denounced Jung Lu at audience to-day, telling the 
Empress that if only the Legations were attacked, he would 
undertake to demolish them in five days; but that Jung Lu, 
by failing to support the Boxers, was a traitor to the 
Dynasty. The Empire, said he, would be endangered 
unless the present opportunity were seized to wipe off old 
scores against the foreigner. Tung is a coarse, foul-spoken 
fellow, most violent in his manner towards us Manchus. 
Kang Yi hates him, but for the present is only too willing 
to make use of him. 

14th Day of the 5th Moon (June loth).^ — Grand Councillor 
Ch’i Hsiu called to-day — he showed me the draft of a 
Decree breaking off all relations with foreigners, which 
he had prepared for the Empress’s signature ; so far, how- 
ever, she has given no indication of agreeing to make war 
against them. In the afternoon I went to Duke Lan’s 
residence — to-day being his wife’s birthday. There are 
more than a hundred Boxers living in his outer courtyard, 
most of them country-folk, under the command of a 
Banner Captain named Wen Shun. Among them are five 
or six lads of thirteen or fourteen who will fall into a 
trance, foam at the mouth, then rise up and grasp wildly 
at anything that comes within their reach, uttering the 
while strange uncouth noises. Duke Lan believes that by 
their magic arts they will be able to guide him, .whf n th^ 
time comes, to the houses of Christian converts S^/iL 
Secondary Devils). He says that his wife goes^ often to 
the Palace and that she has told the Old Buddha of these 
things. The “Ta Kung Chu ” (Princess Imperial and 


adopted daughter of the Empress Dowager) has over two 
hundred and fifty Boxers quartered at the palace outside 
the Hou Men, but she has not dared to tell the Empress 
Dowager^ Her brother, Tsai Ying, is also learning this 
drill. Truly it is a splendid society I The Kansuh braves 
are now entering the Chinese city, and thousands of people 
are preparing to leave Peking. 

i6th Day of the ^th Moon (June 12th). — Jung Lu attended 
the Grand Council this morning. Prince Li, the Senior 
Councillor, did not dare to tell the Empress that a foreign 
devil ^ had been killed yesterday by the Kansuh braves 
just outside the Yung-Ting Gate. Jung Lu was called to 
the audience chamber after Prince Li had retired, and Kang 
Yi believes that he urged her to order Tung Fu-hsiang to 
leave the city with his troops and at the same time to issue 
an Edict, bestowing posthumous honours on the murdered 
foreigner. None of the other Grand Councillors were 
summoned to audience; when Jung Lu left the presence, 
he returned straightway to his own house and spake no 
word to any of his colleagues. It is rumoured that more 
foreign troops are coming to Peking, and that the Empress 
Dowager will not permit them to enter the city. In this 
Jung Lu agrees with her. He has advised that all 
foreigners shall be allowed to leave Peking, but that it is 
contrary to the law of nations to attack the accredited 
representatives of foreign Powers. 

18th Day of the 5th Moon (June 14th). — Yesterday, just 
before nightfall, En Ch’un came in to tell me that several 
hundred Boxers had entered the Ha-Ta Gate. I was sorry 
that my lameness prevented me from going out to see 
them, but I sent Hao Ching-ting to report. Well, indeed, 
is it that I have lived to see this day ; almost every foreign 
building except the Legations had been burnt to the 
ground. Throughout the night flames burst forth in every 
quarter of the city; a grand sight ! Kang Yi has sent me 
a message to say that he and Duke Lan went to the Shun 
Chih (S.W.) Gate at about the third watch to encourage 

^ The Chancellor of the Japanese Legation, Mr. Sugiyama. • 


and direct the Boxers who were burning the French 
Church. Hundreds of converts were burnt to death, men, 
women and children, and so great was the stench of burn- 
ing flesh that Duke Lan and Kang Yi were conipelled to 
hold their noses. At dawn Kang Yi went to the Palace to 
attend the Grand Council. Major-domo Li Lien-ying told 
him that the Old Buddha had watched the conflagrations 
from the hillock to the west of the Southern Lake, and had 
plainly seen the destruction of the French Church at the 
Shun-Chih Men. Li Lien-ying had told her that the 
foreigners had first fired on the crowd inside the Ha-Ta 
Gate, and that this had enraged the patriotic braves who 
had retaliated by slaughtering the converts. It seems that 
Hsii T’ung is unable to get out of his house because the 
foreign devils have barricaded the street ; the Old Buddha 
is anxious about him and has commanded Prince Ch^ing 
to ask the foreign Legations to let him pass out. She is 
amazed at the Boxers’ courage, and Kang Yi believes that 
she is about to give her consent to a general attack upon 
the Legations. Nevertheless, Li Lien-ying has warned him 
that exaggerated praise of the Boxers arouses her sus- 
picions, and that, with the exception of Jung Lu, all the 
Grand Councillors are afraid to advise her. Her Majesty 
is moving into the Palace of Peaceful Longevity in the 
Forbidden City, as all these alarms and excursions disturb 
her sleep at the Lake Palace. 

2 1 St Day of the 5th Moon (June 17 th). — A great fire has 
been raging all to-day in the southern city. Those reck- 
less Boxers set fire to a foreign medicine store in the Ta 
Shalan’rh, and from this the flames spread rapidly, destroy- 
ing the shops of the wealthy goldsmiths and assayers. 
Rightly says the Canon of History ; “When fire rages on 
the Kun Lun ridge, common pebble and precious jade will 
be consumed together.” The Boxers themselves are worthy 
men, but there are among them many evil-doers .whose 
only desire is plunder; these men, wearing the Boxer 
uniform, bring discredit upon the real “patriotio braves.” 
The outer tower of the Ch’ien Men having caught fire, the 
Empress ordered Jung Lu to send Banner troops on to the 



wall so as to prevent any ruffians entering the Tartar City 
by the Ta Ch^ng Gate. 

In the afternoon my married niece came over to see her 
aunt ; she has been greatly alarmed by the uproar and 
fighting near her home, so they are moving to her father- 
in-law's house in the northern city. 

I hear that Prince Tuan has now persuaded the Old 
Buddha to appoint him President of the Tsung-li Yam^n ; 
also that she has authorised him to require all foreigners to 
leave Peking, but they are to be protected against any 
attacks by the Boxers. My old friend, Ch'i Hsiu, has 
been made a Minister of the Tsung-li Yamen, also Na 
T'ung, the Sub-Chancellor of the Grand Secretariat. The 
latter memorialised lately advising the Throne to declare 
war before the foreign Powers could send reinforcements ; 
the Old Buddha has placed him in the Tsung-li Yamen 
to assist Prince Tuan and Ch'i Hsiu in arranging for the 
foreigners’ departure from the city. Prince Ch’ing still 
says nothing for or against the Boxers. Jung Lu has 
offered to escort the foreign Ministers half-way to Tientsin, 
but he stipulates that the Viceroyalty of Chihli must be 
taken from Yii Lu. My wife was taken seriously ill this 
evening; she kept on muttering incoherently and rolling 
about on the k’ang as if in great pain. We sent for 
Dr. Yung, who applied acupuncture. 

2^th Day of the $th Moon (June 20th). — Yesterday, at mid- 
day, Yii Lu’s memorial reached the Throne. He says that 
the foreign devils have actually demanded the surrender of 
the Taku forts, and he begs the Empress Dowager to de- 
clare war on them forthwith, to make them atone for their 
insolence and treachery. A special meeting of the Grand 
Council was immediately called. The Old Buddha was 
very wroth, byt said she would postpone her decision until 
to-day, when all the Princes, Presidents and Vice-Presi- 
dents of the Boards and Ministries, and the Lieutenant- 
Generals of Banners, would meet in special audience. 
Prince Tuan, Ch’i Hsiu and Na T’ung showed her a 
despatch from the foreign Ministers couched in most 
insolent language demanding her immediate abdication, the 


degradation of the Heir Apparent, and the restoration of 
the Emperor.^ The Ministers also asked that the, Emperor 
should allow 10,000 foreign troops to enter Peking to 
restore order. Kang Yi came to tell me that never had he 
seen the Old Buddha so angry, not even when she learned 
of K’ang Yuwei’s treason. “How dare they question my 
authority ? ** she exclaimed. “ If I can bear this, what must 
not be borne? The insults of these foreigners pass all 
bounds. Let us exterminate them before we eat our 
morning meal.*’ ^ 

The wrath of the Old Buddha is indeed beyond control ; 
neither Jung Lu nor any other can stop her now. She 
has told Jung Lu that if he wishes, he may still offer to 
escort the foreign Ministers to Tientsin, but she will giv^ 
no guarantee for their safety on the journey because of 
their monstrous suggestion that she should abdicate. She 
does not absolutely desire their death, but says that the 
consideration she showed them in allowing the Legation 
guards to enter the city, and her solicitude in restraining 
the Boxers, have been ill-requited. “It were better,” says 
she, “to go down in one desperate encounter than to 
surrender our just rights at the bidding of the foreigner.” 

Though only a woman, Her Majesty Tzu Hsi has all the 
courage of a man, and more than the ordinary man’s 

2 ^th Day of Sth Moon: The Hour of the Cock, 5-7 p.m. 
(20th June). — I have just returned from visiting my 
brother-in-law, the Grand Secretary Kang Yi; he told me 
all about this morning’s audience. At the hour of the 
(3~5 a.m.) the Grand Council assembled in the Palace 
by the Lake, and were received by the Old Buddha in the 
Pavilion of the Ceremonial Phoenix. All were there. 
Prince Li, Jung Lu, Kang Yi, Wang Wen-shao, Ch’i 
Hsiu, and Chao Shu-ch’iao, but the Emperor was absent. 
This was a special audience, preparatory to the general 
audience of all the Princes and Ministers, and its object 
was to give the Grand Council an opportunity 'of laying 

^ This was a forgery. 

* A quotation from the/* Book of Odes.’^ 


before Her Majesty any new facts or opinions bearing upon 
the situation. 

With tears in his eyes, Jung Lu knelt before Her 
Majesty; he confessed that the foreigners had only them- 
selves to blame if China declared war upon them, but he 
urged her to bear in mind that an attack on the Legations, 
as recommended by Prince Tuan and the rest of the 
Council, might entail the ruin of the ancestral shrines of 
the Dynasty, as well as the altars of the local and tutelary 
Gods. What good purpose, he asked, would be served 
by the besieging, nay, even by the destruction, of this 
isolated handful of Europeans? What lustre could it add 
to the Imperial arms? Obviously, it must be waste of 
energy and misdirected purpose. 

The Old Buddha replied that if these were his views, he 
had better persuade the foreigners to leave the city before 
the attack began ; she could no longer restrain the patriotic 
movement, even if she wished. If therefore, he had no 
better advice than this to offer, he might consider himself 
excused from further attendance at the Council. 

Jung Lu thereupon “ko-towed” thrice and left the 
audience hall to return to his own house. Upon his 
departure, Ch’i Hsiu drew from his boot the draft of the 
Decree which was to declare war. Her Majesty read it and 
exclaimed : “ Admirable, admirable ! These are exactly 
my views.” She asked each Grand Councillor in turn for 
his opinion, and they declared unanimously in favour of 
hostilities. It was now the hour appointed for the general 
audience and Li Lien-ying came in to conduct Her Majesty 
4o her own apartments to take tea before proceeding to the 
Hall of Diligent Government. 

All the leading members of the Imperial Cl^ were 
kneeling at the entrance to the Hall, awaiting Their 
Majesties’ arrival : the Princes Kung, Ch’un and Tuan ; 
the “Beilehs” Tsai Lien and Tsai Ying; Duke Lan and 
his brother the "Beitzu” Ying; Prince Ch’ing and the 
five Grand Councillors; the Princes Chuang, Su and Yi; 
the Presidents, Chinese and Manchu, of the six Boards 
and' the nine Ministries; the Lieutenants4jeneral of the 


twenty-four Banner divisions ; and the Comptrollers of the 
Imperial Hpusehold. Their Majesties arrived together in 
chairs, borne by four bearers. The Emperor alighted first, 
and knelt as the “ benign Mother ” left her palanquin and 
entered the Hall, supported by the chief eunuch Li Lien- 
ying, and by his immediate subordinate, Ts’ui Chin. The 
Emperor was ghastly pale, and it was observed that he 
trembled as he took his seat on the Lower Throne by the 
Empress Dowager’s side. 

The Old Buddha first called on all present to draw near 
to the Throne ; then, speaking with great vehemence, she 
declared that it was impossible for her to brook these latest 
indignities put upon her by the foreigners. Her Imperial 
dignity could not suffer it. Until yesterday, until, in fact, 
she had read the despatch addressed to the Tsung-li Yam6n 
by the Diplomatic Body, it had been her intention to 
suppress the Boxers ; but in the face of their insolent pro- 
posal that she should hand over the reins of government 
to the Emperor, who had already proved himself quite 
unfitted to rule, she had been brought to the conclusion 
that ho peaceful solution of the situation was possible. The 
mjsdlence of the French Consul at Tientsin Tu Shih-Ian 
(Du Chaylard), in demanding the surrender of the Taku 
Forts was bad enough, but not so grievous an affront as 
the Ministers’ preposterous proposal to interfere with her 
personal prerogatives as Sovereign. Her decision was now 
taken, her mind resolved; not even Jung Lu, to whom she 
had always looked for wise counsel, could turn her from 
this purpose. Then, addressing more directly the Chinese 

K nt, she bade them all to remember that the rule of her 
!hu House had conferred many and great benefits 
UpO{^ the nation for the past two hundred and fifty yeara, 
atiti^that the Throne had always held the balance fairly in 
tha banevolent consideration for all its subjects, north and 
SOUtli alike. The Dynasty had scrupulously folfovced the 
teat^^ings of the Sages in administering the government i| 
takstion had been lighter than under any previous ruHs^, 
/.Had not the pec^te been relieved, in time of their diatresik 
grants from the Privy Pprse? In her own reign, ht^ 


not rebellions been suppressed in such a manner as to earn 
the lasting gratitude of the southern provinces? It was 
therefore now their duty to rally to the support of the 
Throne, and to assist it in putting an end, once and for all, 
to foreign aggression. It had lasted too long. If only the 
nation were of one mind, it could not be difficult to con- 
vince these barbarians that they had mistaken the leniency 
of the past for weakness. That leniency had been great ; 
in accordance with the principle which prescribes the show- 
ing of kindness to strangers from afar, the Imperial House 
had ever shown them the greatest consideration. The 
Emperor K’ang Hsi had even allowed them liberty to 
propagate their religion, an act of mistaken benevolence 
which had been an increasing cause of regret to his suc- 
cessors, In matters of vital principle, she said, these 
foreigners ignore the sacred doctrines of the Sages; in 
matters of detail, they insult the customs and cherished 
beliefs of the Chinese people. They have trusted in the 
strength of their arms, but to-day China can rely upon 
millions of her brave and patriotic volunteers. Are not 
even striplings taking up arms for the defence of their 
country ? She had always been of the opinion that the 
allied armies had been permitted to escape too easily in the 
tenth year of Hsien Feng (i860), and that only a united 
effort was then necessary to have given China the victory. 
To-day, at last, the opportunity for revenge had come. 

Turning to the Emperor, she asked for his opinion. His 
Majesty, after a long pause, and with evident hesitation, 
urged her to follow Jung Lu’s advice, to refrain from 
attacking the Legations, and to have the foreign Ministers 
escorted in safety to the coast. But, he added, it must 
be for her to decide. He could not dare to assume any 
responsibility in the matter. 

The junior Chinese Member of the Council, Chao Shu- 
ch’iao, then spoke. He begged the Old Buddha to issue 
her orders for the immediate extermination of every 
foreigner in the interior, so as to avoid the danger of spies 
reporting on the nature and extent of the patriotic move- 
ment. Her Majesty commanded the Grand Council to 


consider this suggestion and to memorialise in due course 
for an Edict. 

After him; however, each in his turn, the Manchu Li- 
shan, and the Chinese Hsii Ching-ch’eng and YUan 
Ch’ang implored the Empress not to declare war against 
the whole world. China, they said, could not possibly 
escape defeat, and, even if the Empire should not be parti- 
tioned, there must arise great danger of rebellion and 
anarchy from within. Yuan Ch’ang even went so far as 
to say that he had served as a Minister of the Tsung-li 
YamSn for two years and that he had found foreigners to 
be generally reasonable and just in their dealings. He did 
not believe in the authenticity of the despatch demanding 
the Empress’s abdication, which Prince Tuan professed to 
have received from the Diplomatic Body; in his opinion, 
it was impossible that the Ministers should have dared 
to suggest any such interference with China’s internal 

At this Prince Tuan arose and angrily asked the Em- 
press whether she proposed to listen to the words of a 
Chinese traitor? Her Majesty rebuked him for his loud 
and violent manner of speaking, but ordered Yiian Ch’ang 
to leave the Audience Hall. No one else dared to say 

She then ordered the promulgation of the Decree, for 
immediate communication to all parts of the Empire; at 
the same time announcing her intention of sacrificing at 
the ancestral shrines before the commencement of hostilities. 
Prince Chuang and Duke Lan were appointed joint Com- 
manders-in-Chief of the Boxers, but Tzu Hsi gave them 
clearly to understand that if the foreign Ministers would 
agree to take their departure from Peking this afternoon 
Jung Lu was to do his best to protect them as far as 
Tientsin. Finally, the Empress ordered the Grand Council 
to report themselves at mid-day for further orders. All 
were then permitted to retire with the exception of Prince 
Tuan and Duke Lan; these remained in special addience 
for some time longer. Hsii T’ung was present at the 
general audience, having made good his escape from the 

i84 china under THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Legation quarter, and was congratulated by Her Majesty 
on his safety. 

They say that Duke Lan told the Empress of a vision in 
which, the night before, he had seen Yii Huang, the Jade 
Emperor, To him, and to his company of Boxers while 
drilling, the god had appeared, and had expressed his 
satisfaction with them and their patriotic movement. The 
Old Buddha observed that the Jade Emperor had appeared 
in the same manner at the beginning of the reign of the 
Emoress Wu of the T’ang Dynasty (the most famous 
woman ruler in Chinese history) ; the omen, she thought, 
showed clearly that the gods are on the side of China and 
against the barbarians. 

When, at the Hour of the Sheep (i p.m.) Kang Yi returned 
to the Palace, he found Prince Ch’ing in the ante-room of 
the Grand Council, greatly excited. It seems that En Hai,^ 
a Manchu sergeant, had just come to his residence and 
reported that he had shot and killed two foreigners whom 
he had met, riding in sedan chairs that morning, just 
opposite the Tsungpu Street. As orders had been issued 
by Prince Tuan and Ch’i Hsiu to the troops that all 
foreigners were to be shot wherever met, and as one of 
these two was the German Minister, he hoped that Prince 
Ch’ing would recommend him for special promotion. 
Prince Tuan had already heard the news and was greatly 
pleased. Prince Ch'ing and Kang Yi discussed the matter 
and decided to inform the Empress Dowager at once. 
Kang Yi did not think that the death of one foreign devil, 
more or less, could matter much, especially now that it had 
been decided to wipe out the Legations entirely, but Prince 
Ch’ing thought differently and reiterated his opinion that 
the killing of an accredited Envoy is a serious matter. 
Until now, only missionaries and their converts had been 
put to death, but the murder of a Minister could not fail 
to arouse fierce indignation, even as it did in the case of 
the British negotiator * who was captured by our troops 
in the loth year of Hsien-Feng (i860). 

^ This man’s subsequent arrest and execution are described in a 

ensorate memorial at the end of this chapter. 

* Mr. (later Sir Harry) Parkes. 


The Grand Council then entered the presence. Prince 
Li, as the senior member of the Council, told the Old 
Buddha the • news, but added that the foreigners had 
brought it on themselves because they had first fiYed on the 
people. Upon hearing this Her Majesty ordered Jung Lu 
to be summoned in haste, but Kang Yi, being extremely 
busy with his work of providing supplies for the Boxers, 
did not await his arrival. 

Now, even as I write, they tell me that bullets are 
whizzing and whistling overhead; but I am too deaf to 
hear them. En Ch’un says that already the Kansuh braves 
have begun the attack upon the Legations and that Jung 
Lu’s endeavours to have the foreigners escorted to a place 
of safety have completely failed. 

Liu Shun has just come in and asked for leave to go 
home for a week. People are leaving the city in all 
directions and in great numbers. 

2^th Day of the $th Moon: the Hour of the Dog, y-g p.m. 
(June 20th, 1900). — En Ming has just come in to inform 
me that a foreign devil ^ has been captured by Tung Fu- 
hsiang’s troops. They were taking him, wounded^ to 
Prince Chuang’s Palace, prodding at him with their 
bayonets; and he was babbling in his foreign tongue. He 
will be decapitated, and his captors will receive good 
rewards (Prince Chuang has just been given command of 
the Gendarmerie). “The rut in which the cart was over- 
turned is just ahead.” Let this be a warning to those puny 
barbarian ruffians, the soldiery encamped at the very gates 
of the palace. (This alludes to the proximity of the Lega- 
tions to the palace enclosure.) Jung Lu was all ready to 
escort the foreigners to Tientsin; he had with him over 
2000 Manchu troops. Doubtless he means well, but the 
Old Buddha now says that she will not prevent the Kansuh 
braves from destroying the Legations. If the foreigners 
choose to leave with Jung Lu, let them do so, and they 
will not be attacked; but if they insist upon remaining, 
then their punishment be upon their own heads,* and* “let 
them not say they were not forewarned.” 

^ Professor James. 


Duke Lan sent over to invite me to breakfast with him 
to-morrow ; he is sore pressed with business cares just now ; 
nevertheless, he and his brothers always treat their old 
teacher with politeness and respect. Though bellicose by 
nature, he is singularly gentle and refined. Chi Pin ^ sent 
over to ask whether we would like to move to his house in 
the north of the city, because the noise of the firing is very 
great in our quarter, but I am so deaf that I hear not a 
sound of it all.* 

Chi Pin is writing to his father-in-law, Yii Hsien, about 
the audience in the palace. 

Duke Lan writes to tell me that this evening Na T’ung 
informed Prince Tuan and Ch’i Hsiu that, by the orders 
of that rascally Chinaman, Yiian Ch’ang, the corpse of 
the foreign devil had been coffined. Na T’ung wanted 
Prince Tuan to have the corpse decapitated and the head 
exhibited over the Tung An Gate. Yii^n Ch’ang defends 
his action, saying that he knew the German Minister 
personally at the Tsung-li Yamen, and he cannot bear the 
idea of leaving his body uncoffined. Mencius says : “It is 
common to all men to feel pity. No one can see a child 
fall into a well without a shudder of commiseration and 
horror.” But these Chinese traitors of ours are compas- 
sionate to the enemies of our glorious Kingdom, and the 
foe;? of our ancient race. It is passing strange I 

2$th Day of the ^th Moon: the Hour of the Monkey, 
3~5 p.M. (June 21st). — My chair-bearers have fled from the 
city, so to-day I had to use my cart to go to Duke Lan’s 
residence. Prince Tuan and the Grand Secretary, Kang 
Yi, were there; also Chung Li, lately Commandant of the 
Gendarmerie, and the “Beileh” Tsai Lien. Prince Tuan 
had seen the Old Buddha this morning; their Majesties 
have moved from the palace by the lake into the Forbidden 
City. As the Empress Dowager was crossing the road 
which runs between the Gate of the Hsi Yiian (Western 

^ Mentioned above under full name of Chi Shou-ch’eng. Chi Pin was 
his “ hao ** or intimate personal name. 

* Ching Shan’s house was just inside the Tung An Gate of the Imperial 
City, about a quarter of a mile to the north of the present Legation area 


Park) and the Hsi Hua Gate of the Forbidden City she 
saw that a number of Boxers had lined up on each side of 
the street as a* Guard of Honour for the ‘‘ Sacred Chariot.” 
She presented them with 2000 taels, congratulating their 
commander, Prince CKuang, on their stalwart appearance. 
Saith the Old Buddha to Prince Tuan: “The foreigners 
are like fish in the stew-pan. For forty years have I lain 
on brushwood and eaten bitterness because of them, 
nursing my revenge like Prince Kou Chien of the Yiieh 
State (Sth century b.c.). Never have I treated the 
foreigners otherwise than generously; have I not invited 
their womenfolk to visit the Lake Palace? But now, if 
only the country will stand together, their defeat is 

I think Prince Tuan hopes that the Old Buddha will now 
have the Ta Age proclaimed Emperor; but unfortunately 
the Nanking Viceroy, Liu K’un-yi, has much influence 
over her in this matter. When he was in Peking this 
spring, in the second moon, he solemnly warned her 
against the Boxers and ventured even to remonstrate at the 
Ta Age being made Heir Apparent. Were it not for 
Liu K*un Yi, he would have been Emperor long since; 
therefore Prince Tuan has a very bitter hatred against him. 
Liu told the Old Buddha at his second audience that if 
H.M. Kuang Hsii were deposed, the people of his province 
would assuredly rise in rebellion. What concern is it of 
theirs who reigns in the Capital ? His present Majesty’s 
reign has brought many misfortunes to the nation; it is 
high time that it came to an end. Why does not Prince 
Tuan enter the palace and proclaim his son Emperor? 
Tung Fu-hsiang’s Kansuh braves and the Prince’s own 
Manchu soldiery would surely rally round him. But if 
Jung Lu opposed them the Old Buddha would side with 
him. His wife ^ is for ever in the palace. 

26th Day of the 5th Moon (June 22nd). — I went this 

' This favourite companion of Tzu Hsi was really Jung Lu’s secorfdary 
consort, who was only raised to the rank of la premiere ligitime after his 
first wife’s death in September 1900. She survived him and continued 
to exercise great influence with the Old Buddha. 


morning to Prince Li’s palace in the western quarter of the 
city. I . had to go in my small cart, because my chair- 
bearers have either run away to their homes in the country 
or had joined the Boxers. My two sons, En Ch’un and 
En Ming, have been making arrangements to quarter one 
hundred Boxers in our outer courtyard, and it seems that 
we shall have to supply them with food. Although it 
cannot be denied that everyone should join in this noble 
work of exterminating the barbarians, I grudge, neverthe- 
less, spending money in these hard times even for the 
Boxers, for rice is now become as dear as pearls, and fire- 
wood more precious than cassia buds. It may be that, in 
my old age, I am becoming like that Hsiao Hung, brother 
to the founder of the Liang Dynasty, who was so miserly 
that he stored up his money in heaps. On every heap of a 
million cash he would place a yellow label, while a purple 
label marked each hoard of ten millions. It is recorded of 
him, that his relatives abused him for this habit; as for me, 
my sons would like to get at my money, but they cannot. 

I find Prince Li much depressed in his mind; his 
treasure vaults contain vast wealth ; as senior member of 
the Grand Council, moreover, he feels a weight of responsi- 
bility that is too much for him. His abilities are certainly 
small, and I have never yet understood why the Old 
Buddha appointed him to succeed Kung as senior Coun- 
cillor. He tells me of a stormy meeting at the Grand 
Council this morning ; it seems that Her Majesty is greatly 
annoyed with Liu K’un-yi for sending in a telegram 
strongly denouncing the Boxers. He has also telegraphed 
privately to Jung Lu, imploring him to check their rebel- 
lion, but no one knows what answer Jung Lu has made. 

In his telegram to the Empress Dowager, which came 
forward by express couriers from Paotingfu, the Viceroy 
declares that he would be more than ready to march north 
with all his troops if it were to repel a foreign invasion, 
but he firmly declines to lend his forces for the purpose 
of massacring a few helpless foreigners. Coriimenting on 
this, the Empress Dowager quoted the words of the Classic 
Historical Commentary (Tso Chuan) : “The upper and 


lower jaws mutually assist each other; if the lips shrivel ^ 
then must the .teeth catch cold.*^ Thereby she meant; to 
imply that even such, in its close interdependence, is the 
relation between the northern and southern parfs of our 
Empire, and no one should know this better than Liu 
K*un-yi, after his experiences at the time of the Taiping 

The Old Buddha has directed Prince Chuang, as head of 
the city Gendarmerie, to issue a proclamation offering 
Tls. 50 for every head of a male barbarian brought in, 
Tls. 40 for that of a woman, and Tls. 30 for that of a 

While I was still talking with Prince Li, Jung Lu came 
over in his sedan chair to visit his kinsman. He looks 
very tired, and walks with a limp. He was loud in 
denouncing the Boxers, who, he says, are quite incapable 
of doing any good. They had even now dared to shout 
abuse at him while passing the “Houmen,*^ calling him a 
Chinese traitor. I could not help thinking that Jung Lu 
deserved the name, but I did not say so. He is a strong 
man, the strongest of all the Manchus, and I greatly fear 
that his influence may yet be able to wreck all our hopes. 

Returning to my house, I heard that the Princes Tuan 
and Chuang were sending troops to surround the French 
Cathedral, which is defended by a few foreign soldiers 
only, and which should, therefore, be easily captured. 
Prince Li’s palace is within a stone’s-throw of the cathe- 
dral, and to enter the Forbidden City he has to pass just 
south of it, through the “Hsi-Hua” gate. Although 
greatly disturbed by the impending hostilities in his neigh- 
bourhood, he fears to move to a quieter locality, lest, in 
his absence, his treasure vaults should be plundered. No 
doubt the cathedral will fall in a few days. 

My courtyard is now full of Boxers and Kansuh soldiery ; 
I can no longer call my house my own. How I loathe 
these cursed foreigners for causing all this disturbance ! 

The same Day: at the Hour of the Dog (7-0 p.M..). — I 
learn that Jung Lu has just sent off a courier with a tele- 
gram, which Yiian Shih-k’ai is to send on to the Viceroys 


of Canton, Nanking and Wuch’ang. Prince Li has sent 
me a copy, which I am to keep secret ; it reads as follows : — 

“With all respect I have received your telegrams. Where 
one weaktpeople dares to oppose ten or more powerful nations, 
the inevitable result can only be complete ruin. It has always 
been maintained as a fixed principle with civilised nations, that, 
in the event of war between any two Powers, their respective 
Envoys should be treated with respect. Can it now be that 
this our great inheritance, founded by our remote ancestors 
at so great a cost of toil and danger, is to be endangered, and 
suddenly brought to ruin, by these false workers of magic? 
Shall the fate of the Dynasty be staked on a single throw? 
It requires no peculiar sagacity to see that these Boxers* hopes 
of success are nothing but the shadow of a dream. It is true 
and undeniable, that, from Their Majesties on the Throne down 
to the very lowest of our people, all have suffered from the 
constant aggression of foreigners and their unceasing insults. 
For this reason these patriotic train-bands have been organised, 
claiming a divine mission of retaliation; but the present crisis 
is all-serious, and although I have used every effort to explain 
its dangers, I have laboured in vain. I am sick and suffering 
from lameness, but since I obtained leave of absence I have 
already submitted seven separate memorials denouncing these 
Boxers. Seeing that they produced no result, I have now left 
my sick bed, in order, if possible, to explain the situation 
clearly to Their Majesties; and this also has been in vain. 

“All the Princes and Ministers of State who surround the 
Throne now cry out against me with one voice, as your 
Excellencies can readily believe. I dare not quote in this 
place the words of Her Majesty, but I may say that the whole 
of the Imperial family have joined the Boxers, and at least 
two-thirds of our troops, both Manchu and Chinese, are with 
them. They swarm in the streets of our capital like a plague 
of locusts, and it will be extremely difficult to disperse them. 

“Even the divine wisdom of Her Majesty is not sufficient 
to stand against the will of the majority. If Heaven is not 
on our side, how can I oppose its will? For several days past 
I have been pondering night and day on some way out of our 
difficulties, some forlorn hope of escape. Therefore yesterday 
morning (June 20th) I arranged for a meeting with the foreign 
Ministers at the Tsung-li Yam^n, with a view to providing a 
safe-conduct for the entire foreign community, with my own 
troops, to Tientsin. This course appeared to me to hold out 
same reasonable chances of success, but Prince Tuan's soldiery 
slew the German Minister, and since then the situation continues 
to develop from hour to hour with such extraordinary rapidity 
that words fail me to describe it. On my side, in the dis- 


cussions of the Grand Council and the Chamberlains of the 
Presence, are Prince Ch’ing and Wang Wen-shao, but the 
former, following his usual practice, has applied for leave, and 
Her Majesty will have nothing to do with him; so that these 
two are of no real assistance to me. I have no fea^ of death, 
but I grieve at the thought of the guilt which will be recorded 
against me in history; Heaven knows that I am overwhelmed 
with grief and shame. I have received great favours at the 
hands of the Throne, and can only now pray to the spirits of 
the Dynastic ancestors to protect our Empire. The situation 
here is well-nigh lost, but it remains for your Excellencies to 
take all possible steps for the protection of your respective 
provinces. Let each do his utmost, and let proper secrecy be 
maintained.*' Signed “Jung Lu, with tears in his eyes.’* 

It is reported from the Grand Council that Chang Chih- 
tung has telegraphed to Her Majesty, assuring her of his 
devotion and loyalty, and asking whether he should come 
north with his troops to help in the work of destroying 
the barbarians. Chang is a time-server, and loves not the 
Emperor; we have not forgotten how he approved the 
Decree appointing an Heir Apparent, and how he would 
have been a party to His Majesty’s removal from the 
Throne, justifying himself on quibbling grounds of legality 
and precedents as to the lawful succession. He trims his 
sails according to the wind of the moment, and has no 
courage of fixed principles, like Liu K’un-yi. I despise 
the latter’s views in opposing the Boxers, but no one can 
help admiring his upright character. 

(At this point the diarist proceeds to give a full account 
of the rise and spread of the Boxer movement, describing 
in detail their magic rites, their incantations, and their 
ceremonies of initiation. The facts have nearly all been 
published before, so that most of this portion of the Diary 
is here omitted. It is chiefly interesting as showing to 
what heights of superstition even the most educated of the 
Manchus, including the Empress Dowager, could go: We 
give one example only of the farrago of gibberish which, 
believed in high quarters, nearly brought about tile end of 
the Dynasty.) 


The Boxers also possess a secret Talisman, consisting of 
a small piece of yellow paper, which they carry on their 
persons when going into battle. On it is drawn, in Vermil- 
lion painty a figure which is neither that of man ndr devil, 
demon nor saint. It has a head, but no feet; its face is 
sharp-pointed, with eyes and eyebrows, and four halos. 
From the monster’s heart to its lower extremities runs a 
mystic inscription, which reads: “I am Buddha of the 
cold cloud ; before me lies the black deity of fire ; behind 
is Laotzu himself.” On the creature’s body are also borne 
the characters for Buddha, Tiger, and Dragon. On the 
top left-hand corner are the words “invoke first the 
Guardian of Heaven,” and on the right-hand corner, “in- 
voke next the black gods of' pestilence.” The Empress 
Dowager has learned this incantation by heart, and repeats 
it seventy times daily, and every time that she repeats it 
the chief eunuch (Li Lien-ying) shouts : “ There goes one 
more foreign devil.” The Boxers determine the fate of 
their victims by a curious test, which consists of burning 
a ball of paper, and seeing whether the ashes ascend or 
remain upon the ground. They may believe that it is the 
spirits who decide, but, as a matter of fact, these balls of 
paper are sometimes made of thinner material, which 
naturally leave a lighter ash that is easily caught up in the 
air ; whereas, when they use thick paper, the ashes seldom 
rise. Some of the balls are also more tightly rolled than 
others, and it is quite evident that the ashes of the loose 
ones have a much better chance of blowing away than those 
which are tightly rolled. Similarly, when they set fire to 
any place, they profess to be guided by their gods, and 
they say that fire leaps forth at the point of their swords 
in any quarter which the spirits desire to have destroyed. 
As a matter of fact, however, there is deception practised 
in this also, for when they wish to burn any place for pur- 
poses of plunder they have it sprinkled in advance with 
kerosene oil, and if no oil is available, they even pile up 
brushwood around it, upon which they drop a lighted 
match secreted upon their persons. 

2jth Day of the sth Moon (June 23rd). — The foreign 

diary of his excellency CHING SHAN 193 

barbarian of whom I have written ^ was executed this 
morning at the hour of the Hare (6 a.m.) and his head is 
now exhibited in a cage, hanging from the main beam of 
the “Tung-An ” gate. It had to be put in a cage, as there 
was no queue to hang it by. The face has a most horrible 
expression, but it is a fine thing, all the same, to see a 
foreigner’s head hung up at our palace gates. It brings 
back to memory the heads that I saw outside the Board of 
Punishments in the tenth year of Hsien-Feng (i860), but 
there were black devils among those. Jung Lu tried to 
save the barbarian’s life, and even intended to rescue him 
by force, but the Princes Tuan and Chuang had deter- 
mined upon his death, and they had him executed before 
Jung Lu knew it, so that, when his men arrived upon the 
scene, the foreigner’s head had already parted company 
from his body. The Princes had him kneeling before 
them yesterday for several hours on a chain, and all the 
time he kept on imploring them to spare his life; his 
groans were most painful to hear. The Old Buddha has 
been informed of his death, and she gave orders that 
Tls. 500 be distributed to the soldiers who had captured 
him, i. e. a reward ten times greater than that which 
was promised in the proclamations. 

The Boxers who occupy my courtyard tried to take away 
my cigars from me, but subsequently relented and allowed 
me to keep them because of my extreme old age. Nothing 
of foreign origin, not even matches, may be used nowa- 
days, and these Boxer chiefs, Chang Te-ch’eng and Han 
Yi-li, both of whom are common and uneducated men, are 
treated with the greatest respect even by Princes of the 
blood : a curious state of affairs indeed I 

Duke Tsai Lan came to see me this afternoon. He tells 
me an extraordinary story how that the Heir Apparent 
called the Emperor a “devil’s pupil” this morning, and, 
when rebuked for it, actually boxed His Majesty’^ ears. 
The Emperor then reported the facts in a memoriarl to 
Her Majesty, who flew into a towering rage, ^and gave 
orders to the eunuch Ts’ui to administer twenty sharp 
^ Vide under June 20th. 



strokes of the whip on the Heir Apparent’s person. Prince 
Tuan is much enraged at this, but he is horribly afraid of 
Her Majesty, and, when she speaks to him, ^‘he is on 
tenter-hooks, as if thorns pricked him, and the sweat runs 
down his face,” 

Tung Fu-hsiang told the Empress Dowager yesterday 
that the Legations have come to the end of their tether. 
From a rockery on some high ground in the Forbidden 
City gardens, the Old Buddha could see the flames burst- 
ing from the Legation quarter, and was more than once 
assured that final destruction had come upon the foreigners 
at last. But later in the afternoon, Hsii Ching-ch’eng was 
received in audience, when he presented a memorial which 
he and Yiian Ch’ang had drawn up, denouncing the 
Boxers; he told Her Majesty that it was not the Legations, 
but the Han-lin Academy, that was in flames, the Kansuh 
soldiery having set fire to it in the hope that the conflagra- 
tion might spread and thus enable them to force a way into 
the Legation. Her Majesty was greatly disappointed and 
displeased, severely blaming Tung Fu-hsiang, and she sent 
for Jung Lu and talked with him in private for a long 

Good news has come in to-day of victorious fighting at 
Tientsin; Yii Lu reports that many foreigners were slain 
in their attack on the Taku forts, and several of their war- 
ships sunk. Practically the whole of the foreign com- 
munity of Tientsin had been annihilated, he says. 

Many hundreds of Chinese Christians were put to death 
to-day just outside Prince Chuang’s palace. The judges ' 
who convicted them were Prince Chuang, Yi Ku, Fen Ch’e, 
and Kuei Ch’un. There was no mercy shown, and a large 
number of innocent people perished with the guilty. The 
Empress is essentially a kind-hearted woman, and she was 
greatly shocked to hear of this wholesale massacre. She 
was heard to say that if the Catholics would only recant 
and reform, a way of escape might very well be provided 
for them. 

2gth Day of the 5th Moon (June 25th). — ^To-day about 
sixty of the Boxers, led by the Princes Tuan and Chuang, 


and the “Beilehs” Tsai Lien and Tsai Ying, marched to 
the palace at 6 o’clock in the morning to search there for 
converts. Coming to the gate of the Palace of Peaceful 
Longevity, where Their Majesties were still abed, they 
noisily clamoured for the Emperor to come out, denounc- 
ing him as a friend of foreigners. Prince Tuan was their 
spokesman. I heard of the incident from Wen Lien, 
Comptroller of the Household, who was on duty this morn- 
ing ; he was amazed at the foolhardy effrontery of Prince 
Tuan, and thought that he had probably been drinking. 
On hearing the noise outside and the shouts of the Boxers 
clamouring to kill all “devil’s pupils,’’ the Old Buddha, 
who weis taking her early tea, came out swiftly and stood 
at the head of the steps, while the Princes and the Boxer 
leaders swarmed in the courtyard below her. She asked 
Prince Tuan whether he had come to look upon himself 
as the Emperor ; if not, how dared he behave in this reck- 
less and insolent manner ? She would have him know that 
she, and she alone, had power to create or depose the 
Sovereign, and she would have him remember that the 
power which had made his son Heir Apparent could also 
wipe him out in a moment. If he and his fellow Princes 
thought that because the State was at a crisis of confusion 
they could follow their own inclinations in matters of this 
kind, they would find themselves very seriously mistaken. 
She bade them depart, and refrain from ever again enter- 
ing the palace precincts, except when summoned to her 
presence on duty. But they would first prostrate them- 
selves and ask His Majesty’s pardon for their insolent 
behaviour. As a slight punishment for their offences, she 
further commanded that the Princes be mulcted of a year’s 
allowances. As to the Boxer chiefs, who had dared to 
create this uproar in her hearing, they should be decapi- 
tated upon the spot, and Jung Lu’s guards, who were on 
duty at the outer gates, were ordered to carry this sentence 
into immediate effect. Her Majesty is so greatly, incensed 
against the Boxers at this moment that everydne thinks 
that Jung Lu will now be able to put a stop to the attacks 
on the Legations. The Emperor was much alarmed at this 


incident, and when it was over humbly thanked Her 
Majesty for so benevolently protecting him. 

Later; 9 p.M. — The Old Buddha has suddenly deter- 
mined, in her rage against Prince Tuan and his followers, 
to put a stop to the fighting in Peking, and she now agrees 
that Jung Lu shall proceed to the Legations to discuss 
terms of peace. At 6 p.m. to-day all firing stopped, and 
Jung Lu, at the head of his troops, proceeded to the bridge 
which lies on the north of the Legation quarter. The 
foreigners came out from their hiding-places and com- 
menced to parley ; they were shown a board, and on it the 
words written: “Orders have now been received from the 
Empress Dowager to afford due protection to the Lega- 
tions.** Jung Lu hoped to be able to induce the foreign 
Ministers to confer with him for the purpose of restoring 
order. For three hours not a shot has been fired; but En 
Ming has just come in to tell me that the situation has 
again changed, and that the Old Buddha has heard such 
'good accounts of the defeat of the foreign relief force on 
its way to Peking that she is once more determined to give 
the Boxers their head and “to eat the flesh and sleep on 
the skins ** of the foreign devils. 

4 t/i Day of the 6th Moon: at the Hour of the Dog, 7 p.m. 
(June 30, 1900.) — Kang Yi called to-day, and remained 
with me for the evening meal. He tells me that Tung 
Fu-hsiang called in person this morning on Jung Lu at his 
residence, and asked him for the loan of the heavy artillery 
which is under his orders. Jung Lu is said to have ample 
armaments in stock in the city, the property of the Wu 
Wei-chiin (Military Defence Corps) sufficient to knock 
every foreign building to pieces in a few hours. 

Tung was kept waiting at Jung Lu*s door for over an 
hour; when finally admitted, he began to bluster, where- 
upon Jung Lu feigned sleep. “He gave no consent, but 
leant on his seat and slumbered.” ^ Tung then expostu- 
lated with Jung Lu for his rudeness, but the Commander- 
in-Chief only smiled, and brought the interview to an end 
by remarking that Tung’s only way to get the guns would 
* A quotation from Mencius. 


be to persuade the Old Buddha to give him Jung Lu’s 
head with them. “Apply for an audience at once,” he 
said. “She believes you to be a brave man and will 
certainly comply with any request you may make.” 

Tung Fu-hsiang left in a towering rage, and made 
straight for the Forbidden City, although the hour for 
audiences was long since past. At the gate of the Hall of 
Imperial Supremacy (Huangchi tien) he made a loud dis- 
turbance, bidding the eunuchs inform Her Majesty that 
the Kansuh Commander-in-Chief was without, desiring 
audience. It so happened that the Old Buddha was 
engaged in painting a design of bamboos on silk, and she 
was highly displeased at being thus disturbed. Tung 
was ushered in, however, and fell on his knees. “Well,” 
said Her Majesty, “I suppose that you have come to report 
the complete destruction of the Legations? This will be 
the tenth time since the end of last Moon.” “I have 
come,” replied Tung Fu-hsiang, “to ask Your Majesty’s 
permission to impeach the Grand Secretary Jung Lu as a 
traitor and the friend of barbarians. He has the guns 
which my army needs ; with their aid not a stone would be 
left standing in the whole of the Legation quarter.. But 
he has sworn never to lend these guns, even though Your 
Majesty should command it.” Angrily the Old Buddha 
replied: “Be silent. You were nothing but a brigand to 
begin with, and if I allowed you to enter my army it was 
only to give you an opportunity of atoning for your former 
misdeeds. Even now you are behaving like a brigand, 
forgetting the majesty of the Imperial Presence. Of a 
truth, your tail is becoming too heavy to wag. Leave the 
palace forthwith, and do not let me find you here again 
unless summoned to audience.” 

Kang Yi declares that we shall never take the Legations 
so long as Jung Lu continues to exercise his present great 
influence at Court. Li Shan, who is also a great favourite 
of the Empress Dowager, is now on the side of those *who 
would make peace with the foreigners, and-'^has been 
impeached for it by Na T’ung. 

The following proclamation is now placarded all over 


the city, in accordance with the Empress Dowager’s orders 
issued to Prince Chuang. They say that she means to pay 
the rewards. from her own privy purse: — 


“ Rewards. 

‘‘ Now that all foreign churches and chapels have been razed 
to the ground, and that no place of refuge or concealment is 
left for the foreigners, they must unavoidably scatter, flying in 
every direction. Be it therefore known and announced to all 
men, scholars and volunteers, that any person found guilty of 
harbouring foreigners will incur the penalty of decapitation. 
For every male foreigner taken alive a reward of 50 taels will 
be given; for every female 40 taels, and for every child 30 
taels ; but it is to be clearly understood that they shall be taken 
alive, and that they shall be genuine foreigners. Once this 
fact has been duly authenticated, the reward will be paid 
without delay. A special proclamation, requiring reverent 

Much larger rewards than these were paid in the tenth 
year of Hsieng-Feng (i860) for the heads of barbarians, 
but of course in those days they were comparatively rare, 
whereas now, alas, they have become as common as bees ! 

This morning an important trial took place outside the 
gate of Prince Chuang’s palace; Yi Ku, Fen Ch*e, and 
Kuei Ch’un presided. Over nine hundred people were 
^summarily executed by the Boxers, in some cases before 
any proofs whatsoever had been substantiated in regard to 
theft alleged connection with foreigners. Helpless babes 
even were amongst the slain. Fen Ch*e is nothing more 
than a butcher and the Old Buddha remonstrated with 
Prince Chuang for not keeping the Boxers in better order. 

8th Day of the 6th Moon, ii a.m. (July 4th). — YU 
Hsien’s son-in-law, Chi Shou-ch’eng, came and talked 
with me for a long while. The bombardment of the city 
was going on all the time he was here, and to the south 
of my house, close to the Imperial City wall, the troops 
of Li Ping-heng were mounting cannon on an elevated 
platform. They are all still very wroth with Jung Lu, who 
refuses to lend his guns, and his troops are so faithful to 
him that it is impossible to bribe them to disobey him. 


Jung Lu*s courage is really extraordinary; he said of him- 
self lately, that “in the days of the wicked Ruler (meaning 
Prince Tuaq) he bided his time on the shores of the bleak 
North Sea, awaiting the purification of the Enjpire.” ^ I 
am told that Prince Tuan has taken possession of one of 
the Imperial Seals, so as to be able to proclaim his son 
Emperor at the first favourable opportunity; but if the 
Old Buddha finds this out, as most probably she will, there 
is trouble ahead for Prince Tuan. 

Chi Shou-ch’eng tells me that Yii Hsien has sent in a 
memorial to the Empress Dowager with reference to the 
missionaries in Shansi. Ten days ago she had sent him a 
secret Decree, saying: “Slay all foreigners wheresoever 
you find them ; even though they be prepared to leave your 
province, yet must they be slain.” It seems that the Old 
Buddha ordered that this Decree should be sent to every 
high provincial official in the Empire, but it is now reported 
that Tuan Fang, the acting governor of Shensi, and YU 
Chang, governor of Honan, together with the high officials 
in Mongolia, received the Edict in a very different form, 
for the word “slay” had been changed to “protect.” It 
is feared that some treacherous Minister is responsible for 
this, but no one dares inform Her Majesty. To Yu Hsien’s 
latest memorial, she has made the following reply, which 
has been sent by the fastest express riders to T*ai-Yuan , 
fu : “I command that all foreigners — men, women, and" 
children, old and young — be summarily executed. Let not 
one escape, so that my Empire may be purged of this 
noisome source of corruption, and that peace may be 
restored to my loyal subjects.” Chi Shou-ch’eng tells me 
that Yu Hsien’s bitterness against foreigners is inspired 
by his wife, of whom he is greatly afraid. He himself has 
earned golden opinions in T’aiyuan during his short 
administration, and has a high reputation for even-handed 
justice. He says also that this last Decree gave pleasure 
to Prince Chuang; Jung Lu tried to stop it, asking the 
Old Buddha what glory could China expect to gain by* 
the slaughter of women and children. “We should, 

1 Quotation from^Mencius. 


become the laughing-stock of the world,’* he said, “and the 
Old Buddha’s widespread fame and reputation for benevol- 
ence would be grievously injured.” “Yes,” replied the 
Empress Dowager, “but these foreigners of yours wish to 
see me deposed, and I am only paying off old scores. 
Ever since the days of Tao-Kuang this uproarious guest 
within our borders has been maltreating his hosts, and it is 
time that all should know who is the real master of the 

Yesterday afternoon the Empress Dowager crossed over 
to the Lake Palace for a water picnic, attended by several 
ladies of the Court. The continuous bombardment of the 
French cathedral eventually made her head ache, so she 
despatched a chamberlain to the officer commanding at 
the Hsi-Hua Gate, ordering them to cease firing until her 
return to the Forbidden City. 

nth Day of the 6th Moon (7th July). — Yli Lu has sent 
in a ridiculous memorial, reporting the capture of four 
camels, as well as the killing of many foreigners, in Tien- 
tsin. Jung Lu has advised him to cease attacking the 
foreign Settlements. Talking of Jung Lu, I hear that 
Tung Fu-hsiang recently hired a Manchu soldier to assas- 
sinate him, but, instead of doing so, the man betrayed the 
plot to Jung Lu. This soldier turns out to be a brother of 
that En Hai who slew the foreign devil (Baron von 
Ketteler), and Tung thought therefore that he would gladly 
do anything to assist in destroying the Legations. But he 
is a clansman of Jung Lu’s banner, and, like Yii Kung- 
ssu, whom Mencius called the best archer in Wei, “he 
could not bear to slay the old Chief who had taught him 
the arts of war.” Jung Lu has again memorialised the 
Old Buddha, reminding her of that well-known saying 
in the Spring and Autumn Annals,^ which lays down that 
the persons of foreign Envoys are always inviolate within 
the territories of any civilised State. This attack on the 
Legation, he says, is worse than an outrage ; it is a piece 
of stupidity which will be remembered against China for 

' History of events under the Chou dynasty, by Confucius, one of the 
Five Classics. 


all time. Her Majesty appeared to think that, because a 
small nation like the Transvaal could conquer a great 
Power like England, China must necessarily be even more 
successful in fighting the whole world; but there was no 
analogy between the two cases. If peace were to be made 
at once, the situation might still be saved; but if the 
Legations were demolished, there must be an end of 
Manchu rule. He warned Her Majesty solemnly, and she 
appears to be gradually coming to look at things from his 
point of view. These Boxers can certainly talk, but they 
do very little. 

Bad news has reached the palace to-day of the fighting 
around Tientsin, and Her Majesty is most anxious about 
it, though she still refuses to believe that the foreign 
brigands can possibly enter Peking. 

i$th Day of the 6th Moon (iith July). — My neighbour 
Wen Lien, Comptroller-General of the Imperial House- 
hold, tells me that the Old Buddha is in a furious rage. 
She finds the heat trying, and yesterday she turned on the 
Heir Apparent and snubbed him badly for impertinence; 
he had asked if he might be permitted to escort her to 
Jehol, leaving the Emperor to settle matters with his 
foreign friends in Peking. One of the young eunuchs 
tried to mollify her by reporting, whenever the report of 
a gun was heard, that another foreign devil had been 
killed, but as the Old Buddha observed, “there has been 
enough firing for the past few weeks to kill off every 
foreigner in China several times, and so far there is hardly 
anything to show for it.” 

ijth Day of the 6th Moon ( 13 th July). — ^Jung Lu asked 
Her Majesty yesterday what she would do if the Boxers 
were defeated, and if Peking were captured by the 
foreigners. In reply, she quoted to him the words of 
Chia Yi, a sophist of the Han dynasty, in reference to the 
Court’s diplomatic dealings with the Khan of the Hans : — 

“ If the Emperor wishes to gain the allegiance of .other • 
countries, he can only ^do so by convincing their rulers that he 
possesses the three cardinal virtues of government, and by 
displaying the five allurements. 


These allurements are : (i) Presents of chariots and rich 
robes, to tempt the eye; (2) rich food and banquets, to tempt 
the palate; (3) musical maidens, to tempt the ear; {4) fine 
houses and beautiful women, to tempt the instinct of luxury; 
and (5) the presence of the Emperor at the table of the foreign 
ruler, to tempt his pride. 

The three cardinal virtues of government are : (i) to simulate 
affection ; (2) to express honeyed sentiments ; and (3) to treat 
one’s inferiors as equals.” 

Two years ago, said the Empress, she had invited the 
foreign ladies to her Court, and had noticed their delight 
at the reception she gave them, although she well knew 
that their sympathies were with the Emperor, and against 
her. She would again allure them to her side with rich 
gifts and honeyed words. ^ 

20 th Day of the 6th Moon (i6th July). — Bad news from 
Yii Lu; Tientsin has been captured by the foreigners, who 
now swarm like locusts. Not one of the Grand Councillors 
dared to carry the news to Her Majesty, so Prince Tuan 
went in boldly, and informed her that the foreign devils 
had taken the city, because the Boxers had been negligent 
in the performance of their prescribed rites ; Peking, how- 
ever, would always be perfectly safe from invasion. Early 
this morning Jung Lu had informed the Old Buddha that 
he had ascertained beyond doubt that the document, which 
purported to come from the Foreign Ministers, demanding 
her abdication, was a forgery. It had been prepared by 
Lien Wen-chung, a Secretary of the Grand Council, at 
Prince Tuan’s orders. The Old Buddha was therefore in 
no soft mood; angrily she told Prince Tuan that, if the 
foreigners entered Peking, he would certainly lose his 
head. She was quite aware of his motives; he wanted to 
secure the Regency, but she bade him beware, for, so 
long as she lived, there could be no other Regent. “Let 
him be careful, or his son would be expelled from the 

^ How well and successfully she did it, has been told in Miss Catherine 
A. CarPs book, WM the Empress Dowae^er of China. The painting of 
her portrait for the St. Louis Exhibition was in itself an example of TzU 
HsPs cardinal virtues of government,” which she practised with con- 
spicuous success on the simple-minded wife of the American Minister, 
Mrs. Conger. {Vide Cordier : Relations de la Chine^ Vol. III., p. 423.) 


palace, and the family estates confiscated to the Throne.^’ 
His actions had indeed been worthy of the dog’s ^ name 
he bore. Prince Tuan left the palace, and was heard to 
remark that “the thunderbolt had fallen too quickly for 
him to close his ears.” 

Jung Lu has won over all the military commanders 
except Tung Fu-hsiang and his staff, and they have come 
to a general understanding that the bombardment of the 
Legations must cease. Jung Lu has explained, as his. 
reason for not allowing the heavy artillery to be used, that 
it would inevitably have inflicted serious damage on the 
Imperial shrines and the Ancestral temple. 

The Old Buddha is sending presents to the Legations, 
water-melons, wine, vegetables, and ice, and she has ex- 
pressed a wish that Prince Ch’ing should go and see the 
Foreign Ministers. 

They say that Hsii Ching-ch’eng is secretly communicat- 
ing with the Legations. 

A messenger with twelve despatches from the Legations 
was captured to-day and taken to Prince Chuang’s palace. 
Three of the twelve were in cipher and could not be 
translated by the Tsung-li Yamen interpreter, but from 
the others it was learned that the foreigners had lost over 
a hundred killed and wounded and that their provisions 
were running very low. 

Chi Shou-ch’eng has gone to T’ai Yuan-fu to see Yii 
Hsien, his father-in-law. The latter has memorialised the 
Throne, reporting that he cunningly entrapped all the 
foreigners, cast them into chains and had every one decapi- 
tated in his YamSn. Only one woman had escaped, after 
her breasts had been cut off, and had hidden herself under 
the city wall. She was dead when they found her. 

Rain has fallen very heavily to-day. Liu Ta-chiao 
brought me 8 lb. of pork from the palace kitchen, and I 
sent a large bowl of it to my married sister. Towards 

^ The second character of Prince Tuan^s name contained the radical 
sign for and was given him by the Emperor Hsien-F^ng, because 
he had been begotten during the period of mourning for his* parent Tao- 
Kuang ; it being an offence, under Chinese law, for a son to be begotten 
during the twenty-seven months of mourning for father or mother. 


evening a detachment of cavalry, with several guns, passed 
my door. They were Li Ping-heng’s men, on their way 
to mount these guns on a platform above the Forbidden 
City walb as a precaution against sorties by the foreigners. 
There has been heavy firing all night, and it is reported 
that foreign devils have been seen in the neighbourhood of 
the Ha-Ta Men. 

2ist Day of the 6th Moon (17th July). — A lovely day. I 
walked over to call on Prince Li and Duke Lan. The 
latest rumour is that Yii Lu’s troops are in flight and 
harrying the country side. They are said to be clamouring 
for their pay, which is months in arrears, and have 
plundered both Tungchou and Chang Chia-wan most 
thoroughly. Both the eastern gates of the City are now 
kept closed, and the northern gate (Anting men) is only 
opened occasionally. 

Yang Shun, the gate-keeper, has returned from his 
home at Pao-ti-hsien, east of Peking, where he reports 
things fairly quiet. 

Li Ping-heng*s troops are reported to have won a great 
victory and driven the barbarians to the sea. Nevertheless, 
heavy firing was heard to the south-eastward this afternoon. 

Duke Lan has gone out with a large force of Boxers to 
search for converts reported to be in hiding in the Temple 
of the Sun. 

2jth Day of the 6th Moon (23rd July). — This morning 
Yiian Ch’ang and Hsu Ching-ch’eng handed in the third 
of their Memorials against the Boxers, in which they recom- 
mend the execution of several members of the Grand 
Council, Their valour seems to be more laudable than 
their discretion, especially as the Old Buddha is disposed 
once more to believe in the Boxers as the result of Li Ping- 
heng’s audience with her yesterday. He came up from 
Hankow, and has now been appointed joint commander, 
with Jung Lu, of the army of the north. He confidently 
assured her of his ability to take the Legations by storm, 
and repeatedly said that never again would the tutelary 
deities of the Dynasty suffer her to be. driven forth, in 
humiliation, from her capital. 


I went across to Duke Lan^s house this morning and 
found Prince Tuan and Li Ping-heng there. They were 
busy planning a renewed attack on the Legations, and Li 
was strongly in favour of mining from the Han-lin Academy 
side. He has advised the Empress Dowager that a mine 
should be sprung, as was done lately at the French 
Cathedral, and he is convinced that in the ensuing con- 
fusion the foreigners would be easily overwhelmed. 

After reading the latest Memorial of Hsti and Yiian, the 
Old Buddha observed: “These are brave men. I have 
never cared much for Hsii, but Yiian behaved well in 1898 
and warned me about K’ang Yu-wei and his plotting. Be 
that as it may, however, they have no business to worry 
me with these persistent and querulous questions. The 
Throne itself is fully competent to judge the character of 
its servants, and it is a gross misconception of duty for 
‘ the acolyte to stride across the sacred vessels and show 
the priest how to slaughter the sacrificial beasts.’ ^ Desir- 
ing to deal leniently with the Memorialists, I command that 
my censure be communicated to them and that they take 
heed to refrain in future from troubling my ears with their 
petulant complainings.” 

3rd Day of the yth Moon (28th July). — The Old Buddha 
places much confidence in Li Ping-heng. Yesterday he 
and Kang Yi discovered that the word “to slay,” in Her 
Majesty’s Decree ordering the extermination of all 
foreigners, had been altered to “protect” by Yiian Ch’ang 
and Hsii Ching-ch’eng. I have just seen Kang Yi, and 
he says that Her Majesty’s face was divine in its wrath. 
“They deserve the punishment meted out to Kao ch’u-mi,” ^ 
she said, “their limbs should be torn asunder by, chariots 
driven in opposite directions. Let them be summarily 
decapitated.” An Edict was forthwith issued, but no 
mention is made in it of the alteration of the Decree, as this 
is a matter affecting the nation’s prestige ; the offenders are 


' A classical allusion, in common use, equivalent to “ Ne^sutor. ultra 

* A traitor whose crime and punishment are recorded in the Spring and 
Autumn Annals, 

2o6 china under the EMPRESS DOWAGER 

denounced only for having created dissensions in the 
palace and favoured the cause of the foreigner. Both were 
executed this morning ; my son, En Ming, witnessed their 
death. It is most painful to me to think 6f the end of 
Yiian Ch’ang, for he had many sterling qualities; as for 
Hsii, I knew him in the days when we were colleagues at 
the Grand Secretariat, and I never had a high opinion of 
the man. His corruption was notorious. Just before the 
sword of the executioner fell, Yiian remarked that “he 
hoped that the Sun might soon return to its place in the 
Heaven, and that the usurping Comet might be destroyed.” 
By this he meant that Prince Tuan’s malign influence had 
led the Empress Dowager to act against her own better 
instincts. Duke Lan, who was superintending the execu- 
tion, angrily bade him be silent for a traitor, but Yiian 
fearlessly went on : “I die innocent. In years to come my 
name will be remembered with gratitude and respect, long 
after you evil-plotting Princes have met your well-deserved 
doom.” Turning then to Hsii, he said: “We shall meet 
anon at the Yellow Springs.^ To die is only to come 
home.” Duke Lan stepped forward as if to strike him, 
and the headsman quickly despatched them both. 

8 th Day of the jth Moon (3rd August). — I have had 
much trouble with my eldest son to-day. He has been 
robbing me lately of large sums, and when I rebuked him 
he had the audacity to reply that my duty to the Throne 
would make my suicide a fitting return for the benefits 
which I have received at its hands. 

Li Ping-heng has gone to the front to rally the troops 
and check the foreigners’ advance. He has impeached 
Jung Lu but the Old Buddha has suppressed the Memorial. 
The Emperor thanked Jung Lu for his services, and the 
Commander-in-Chief replied that he of all the servants of 
the Throne never expected to receive praise from His 
Majesty, considering the events of the past two years.® 

nth Day of the yth Moon (5th August). — The Old 
Buddha has commanded Jung Lu to arrange for escorting 

' A classical expression, meaning the Spirit-world. 

® Referring to his part in the coup d^dtat of 1898. 

diary of his excellency CHING SHAN 207 

the foreigners to Tientsin, so that the advance of the Allies 
may be stopped. In this connection, I hear that not many 
days ago, Na T’ung persuaded Ch’i Hsiu to have a letter 
sent to the Foreign Ministers, inviting them to come, 
without escort of troops, to an interview with the Tsung-li 
Yam^n, his idea being to have them all massacred on the 
way. Ch’i Hsiu thought the suggestion excellent, but, 
although several letters have been sent proposing it, the 
Ministers decline to leave the Legations. Meanwhile, there 
have been several fresh attacks on the Legations during the 
past few days. 

A foreign devil, half naked, was found yesterday in 
Hatamen Street. He “ko-towed ” to everyone he met, high 
class or low, imploring even the rag-pickers to spare his 
life and give him a few cash. “We shall all be massacred 
soon,” he said, “but I have done no wrong.” One of 
Jung Lu’s sergeants seized him and took him to the Com- 
mander-in-Chief’s residence. Instead of decapitating him, 
Jung Lu sent him back. This shows, however, the 
desperate straits to which the foreigners are reduced. 

i$th Day of the yth Moon (9th August). — Bad news from 
the South. Yii Lu’s forces have been defeated and the 
foreigners are approaching nearer every day. The Old 
Buddha is meditating flight to Jehol, but Jung Lu strongly 
urges her to remain, even if the Allies should enter the 
city. Duke Lan scoffs at the idea of their being able to do 
so. One comfort is that, if they do come, they will not loot 
or kill. I remember well how good their discipline was 
forty years ago. I never stirred out of my house and not 
one of the barbarians ever came near it. We had a little 
difficulty about getting victuals, but the foreigners hardly 
came into the city, and did us no harm. 

i6th Day of the 7th Moon (loth August). — My old 
colleague, Li Shan, whose house adjoins the French 
Cathedral, has been accused of making a subterranean 
passage and thus assisting the foreigners with suppHes. 
He has been handed over to the Board of Punishment^ by 
Prince Tuan, without the knowledge of the Empress 
Dowager, together with Hsu Yung-yi and Lien Yuan. 

2o8 china under the EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Prince Tuan has long had a grudge against Hsii for having 
expressed disapproval of the selection of the Heir Appar- 
ent. As to Lien, they say that his arrest is due to Na 
T’ung, and his offence is that he was on terms of intimacy 
with Yiian Ch’ang. All three prisoners were decapitated 
this morning. Hsii Yung-yi was older than I am (seventy- 
nine) and his death is a lamentable business indeed. But 
he went to his death calmly and without complaint when he 
learned that the Empress Dowager knew nothing of the 
matter and that it was Prince Tuan’s doing alone. “The 
power of the usurper,” said he, “is short-lived. As for 
me, I am glad to die before the foreigners take Peking.” 
The Old Buddha will be very wroth when she hears that 
two Manchus have thus been put to death. Li Shan and 
Jung Lu were old friends. 

A certain General Liu, from Shansi, assured the Empress 
this morning that he would undertake to demolish the 
Legations in three days, and this would so alarm the Allies 
that their advance would certainly be stopped. A furious 
bombardment has just begun. 

The Boxers have proved themselves utterly useless. I 
always said they never would do anything. 

i 8 th Day of the jth Moon (12th August). — The foreigners 
are getting nearer and nearer. Yii Lu shot himself with a 
revolver on the 12th at Ts’ai Ts’un. He had taken refuge 
in a coffin shop, of all ill-omened places I His troops had 
been utterly routed thrice, at Pei Ts’ang, Yang Ts’un and 
at Ts’ai Ts’un. Li Ping-heng reached Ho-hsi-wu on the 
14th, but in spite of all his efforts to rally our forces, the 
two divisional leaders, Chang Ch’un-fa and Ch’en Tse-lin, 
refused to fight. Li Ping-heng therefore took poison. 
Jung Lu went to-day to break the news to the Old Buddha : 
Sovereign and Minister wept together at the disasters which 
these Princes and rebels have brought upon our glorious 
Empire. Jung Lu refrained from any attempt at self- 
justification; he is a wise man. The Old Buddha said she 
would commit suicide and make the Emperor do the same, 
rather than leave her capital. Jung Lu besought her to 
take his advice, which was to remain in Peking and to 


issue Decrees ordering the decapitation of Prince Tuan 
and his followers, thus proving her innocence to the world. 
But she seems to cling still to a hope that the supernatural 
powers of the Boxers may save Peking, and so the furious 
bombardment of the Legations continues. 

Eight audiences have been given to-day to Jung Lu and 
five to Prince Tuan. All the other members of the Grand 
Council sat with folded hands, suggesting nothing. 

20th Day (14th August), 5 p.M. — T*ungchou has fallen 
and now the foreigners have begun to bombard the city. 
The Grand Council has been summoned to five meetings 
to-day in the Palace of Peaceful Longevity : Her Majesty 
is reported to be starting for Kalgan. At the hour of the 
Monkey (4 p.m.) Duke Lan burst into the Palace, unan^ 
nounced, and shouted, “Old Buddha, the foreign devils 
have come I ” Close upon his footsteps came Kang Yi, 
who reported that a large force of turbaned soldiery were 
encamped in the enclosure of the Temple of Heaven. 
“Perhaps they are our Mahommedan braves from Kansuh,’* 
said Her Majesty, “come to demolish the Legations ?“ 
“No,” replied Kang Yi, “they are foreign devils. Your 
Majesty must escape at once, or they will murder you.” 

Later, midnight . — There has just been an Audience 
given to the Grand Council in the Palace, at which Kang 
Yi, Chao Shu-ch’iao and Wang Wen-shao were present. 
“Where are the others? ” said the Old Buddha. “Gone, I 
suppose, everyone to his own home, leaving us here, 
Mother and Son,^ to look after ourselves as best we may. 
At all events, you three must now accompany me on my 
journey.” Turning to Wang Wen-shao, she added : 
“You are too old, and I could not bear the thought of 
exposing you to such hardships. Make such speed as you 
can and join me later.” Then to the other two she said : 
“You two are good riders. It will be your duty never to 
lose sight of me for an instant.” Wang Wen-shao replied : 
“I will hasten after Your Majesty to the best* of, my 
ability.” The Emperor, who seemed surprisingly . alert 
and vigorous, here joined in : “Yes, by all meUns, follow 
^ The Emperor was her adopted son. 


as quickly as you can.” This ended the audience, but the 
actual hour of Her Majesty’s departure remains uncertain. 
Jung Lu’s attendance was impossible because he was busy 
trying to*rally our forces. 

2ist Day (15th August). — When Lien tells me that the 
Old Buddha arose this morning at the Hour of the Tiger 
(3 A.M.) after only an hour’s rest, and dressed herself 
hurriedly in the common blue cloth garments of a peasant 
woman, which she had ordered to be prepared. For the 
first time in her life, her hair was done up in the Chinese 
fashion. “Who could ever have believed that it would 
come to this?” she said. Three common carts were 
brought into the palace ; their drivers wore no official hats. 

All the Concubines were sunimoned to appear before 
Her Majesty at 3.30 a.m. ; she had previously issued a 
decree that none of them would accompany her for the 
present. The Pearl Concubine, who had always been 
insubordinate to the Old Buddha, came with the rest and 
actually dared to suggest that the Emperor should remain 
in Peking. The Empress was in no mood for argument. 
Without a moment’s hesitation, she shouted to the eunuchs 
on duty : “ Throw this wretched minion down the well I ’• 
At this the Emperor, who was greatly grieved, fell on his 
knees in supplication, but the Empress angrily bade him 
desist, saying that this was no time for bandying words. 
“Let her die at once,” she said, “as a warning to all unduti- 
ful children, and to those ‘ hsiao ’ birds ^ who, when 
fledged, peck out their own mother’s eyes.” So the 
eunuchs Li and Sung took the Pearl Concubine and cast 
her down the large well which is just outside the Ning 
Shou Palace. 

Then to the Emperor, who stood trembling with grief 
and wrath, she said : “ Get into your cart and hang up the 
screen, so that you be not recognised ” (he was wearing a 
long gown of black gauze and black cloth trousers). 
Swiftly then the Old Bud^l^a gave her orders. “P’u Lun, 
you will ride on the sh^t ’bf the Emperor’s cart and look 
after him. I shall travel ih* the other cart, and you, P’u 
^ A species 4of o^lj—classical reference. 




Chiin (the Heir Apparent) will ride on the shaft. Li Lien- 
ying, I know you are a poor rider, but you must shift as 
best you can to keep up with us.** At this critical moment 
it seemed*as if the Old Buddha alone retained her presence 
of mind. ‘‘Drive your hardest,** she said to the carters, 
“and if any foreign devil should stop you, say nothing. 

I will speak to them and explain that we are but poor 
country folk, fleeing to our homes. Go first to the Summer 
Palace.** Thereupon the carts started, passing out through 
the northern gate of the palace (The Gate of Military 
Prowess) while all the members of the Household and the 
Imperial Concubines prostrated themselves, wishing Their 
Majesties a long life. Only the three Grand Councillors 
followed on horseback, a rendezvous having been arranged 
for other officials at the Summer Palace. My neighbour 
Wen Lien, the Comptroller of the Household, followed 
Their Majesties at a distance, to see them safely out of the 
city. They left by the “Te-sheng-Mfen,** or Gate of 
Victory, on the north-west side of the city, where for a 
time their carts were blocked in the dense mass of refugees 
passing out that way. 

4 p.M. — The Sacred Chariot of Her Majesty reached the 
Summer Palace at about 8 a.m. and Their Majesties re- 
mained there an hour. Meanwhile, at 6 a.m.. Prince 
Ch*ing, just before starting for the Summer Palace, sent 
a flag of truce to the Japanese Pigmies who were bom- 
barding the city close to the “Ch’i Hua** gate on the east 
of the city. Tlie gate was thrown open and the troops 
swarmed in. 

My son En Ming was on duty at the Summer Palace 
with a few of his men, when the Imperial party arrived, all 
bedraggled and dust-begrimed. The soldiers at the palace 
gate could not believe that this was really their Imperial 
mistress until the Old Buddha angrily asked whether they 
failed to recognise her. The carts were driven in through 
the side entrance, and tea was served. Her Majesty gave 
orders that all curios, valuables, and ornaments were to 
be packed at once and sent off to Jehol ; at the same time 
she despatched one of the eunuchs to Peking to tell the 


Empress ^ to bury quickly every scrap of treasure in the 
Forbidden City, hiding it in the courtyard of the Ning 
Shou Palace, 

The Princes Tuan, Ching, Na, and Su joihed Their 
Majesties at the Summer Palace ; a few Dukes were there 
also, as well as Wu Shu-mei and Pu Hsing of the higher 
officials. About a dozen Secretaries from the different 
Boards, and three Clerks to the Grand Council, accom- 
panied the Court from this point. General Ma Yu-k*un, 
with a force of 1000 men escorted Their Majesties to Kal- 
gan, and there were, in addition, several hundreds of Prince 
Tuan’s “Heavenly Tiger” Bannermen, fresh from their 
fruitless attacks on the Legations. Jung Lu is still 
endeavouring to rally his troops. 

I have just heard of the death of my old friend, Hsii 
T’ung, the Imperial Tutor and Grand Secretary. He has 
hanged himself in his house and eighteen of his women- 
folk have followed his example. He was a true patriot 
and a fine scholar. Alas, alas 1 From all sides I hear the 
same piteous story ; the proudest of the Manchus have come 
to the same miserable end. The betrothed of Prince Ch’un, 
whom he was to have married next month, has committed 
suicide, with all her family. It is indeed pitiful.^ 

Thus, for the second time in her life, the Old Buddha 
has had to flee from her Sacred City, like the Son of 
Heaven in the Chou Dynasty, who “fled with dust-covered 
head.” The failure of the southern provinces to j.oin in the 
enterprise has ruined us. Prince Tuan was much to blame 
in being anti-Chinese. As Confucius said: “By the lack 
of broad-minded tolerance in small matters, a great design 
has been frustrated.” After all, Jung Lu was right — the 
Boxers’ so-called magic was nothing but child’s talk. 
They were in reality no stronger than autumn thistledown. 
Alas, the bright flower of spring does not bloom twice ! 

My wife and the other women, stupidly obstinate like 

1 Consort of Kuang-Hs(i, later Empress Dowager, known by the 
honorific title of Lung-yii. i 

• Prince Ch’un subsequently married Jung Lu’s daughter, by special 
command of the Empress Dowager. 


all females, intend to take opium. I cannot prevent them 
from doing so, but, for myself, I have no intention of 
doing anything so foolish. Already the foreign brigands 
are looting in other quarters of the city, but they will never 
find my hidden treasure, and I shall just remain here, old 
and feeble as I am. My son, En Ch’un, has disappeared 
since yesterday, and nearly all my servants have fled. 
There is no one to prepare my evening meal. 

{Here the Diary ends. The old man was murdered by 
his eldest son that same evening; all his women-folk had 
previously taken poison and died.) 

Vermilion Decree of H.M. Kuang Hsii, 24th day, 12th 
Moon of 2^th year (24th January, 1900), making Prince 
Tuan^s son Heir Apparent. 

“ In days of our tender infancy we succeeded by adoption to 
the Great Inheritance, and were favoured by the Empress 
Dowager, who graciously ‘ suspended the curtain ’ and admini- 
stered the Government as Regent, earnestly labouring the 
while at our education in all matters. Since we assumed the 
reins of government, the nation has passed through severe 
crises, and our sole desire has been to govern the Empire wisely 
in order to requite the maternal benevolence of Her Majesty 
as well as to fulfil the arduous task imposed on us by His late 

*‘But since last year our constitution has been sore-stricken 
with illness, and we have undergone much anxiety lest the 
business of the State should suffer in consequence. Reflecting 
on the duty we owe to our sacred ancestors and to the Empire, 
we have therefore besought Her Majesty to administer the 
Government during the past year. Our sickness has so far 
shown no signs of improvement, and it has prevented us from 
performing all the important sacrifices at the ancestral shrines 
and at the altars of the gods of the soil. 

“ And now at this acute crisis, the spectacle of Her Majesty, 
labouring without cease in the profound seclusion of her palace, 
without relaxation or thought of rest, has filled us with dismay. 
We can neither sleep nor eat in the anxiety of our thoughts. 
Reflecting on the arduous labours of our ancestors from whom 
this great Heritage has descended to us, we arc overwhelmed 
by our unfitness for this task of government. W^e bear in mind 
(and the fact is well known to all our subjects) that when first 


we succeeded by adoption to the Throne, we were honoured 
with a Decree from the Empress Dowager to the effect that so 
soon as we should have begotten an heir, he should become the 
adopted son of His Majesty T’ung-Chih. But our protracted 
sickness renders it impossible for us to hope for a sbn, so that 
His late Majesty remains without heir. This question of the 
succession is of transcendent importance, and our grief, as we 
ponder the situation, fills us with feelings of the deepest self- 
abasement, and renders illusive all hope of our recovery from 
this sickness, 

“We have accordingly prostrated ourselves in supplication 
before our Sacred Mother, begging that she may be pleased to 
select some worthy person from among the Princes of the 
Blood as heir to His Majesty T^ung-Chih, in order that the 
Great Inheritance may duly revert to him. As the result of our 
repeated entreaties Her Majesty has graciously consented, and 
has appointed P'u Chun, son of Prince Tuan, as heir by 
adoption to His late Majesty. Our gratitude at this is un- 
bounded, and reverently we obey her behests, hereby appointing 
P’u Chiin to be Heir Apparent and successor to the Throne. 
Let this Decree be made known throughout the Empire.*’ 

Seldom has history seen so tragically pathetic a docu- 
ment. It was not only a confession of his own illegality 
and an abdication, but his death-warrant, clear writ for all 
men to read. And the poor victim must perforce thank 
his executioner and praise the “maternal benevolence” of 
the woman whose uncontrollable love of power had 
wrecked his life from the cradle. 

Memorial from the Censorate at Peking to the Throne at 
Hsi^an, describing the arrest of En Hat, the murderer of 
the German Minister, Baron von Ketteler^ 

This Memorial affords a striking illustration of the 
sympathy which animated, and still animates, many of 
those nearest to the Throne in regard to the Boxers and 
their anti-foreign crusade, and their appreciation of the 
real sentiments of the Empress Dowager, even in defeat. 

^ This Memorial was never published officially, and Tzu Hsi ’refrained 
from issuing a Rescript thereto ; it was forwarded by an official with the 
Court at Hsi-an to one of the vernacular papers at Shanghai, which 
published it. 

2i6 china under the EMPRESS DOWAGER 

It also throws light on the Chinese officiars idea of heroism 
in a soldier. 

A spy in Japanese employ, engaged in searching for looted 
articles in the pawnshops of the district in Japanese military 
occupation, found among the unredeemed pledges in one shop 
a watch bearing Baron von Ketteler's monogram. The pawn- 
broker said that it had been pledged by a Bannerman named 
En Hai, who lived at a carter’s inn of the Tartar city. This 
spy was a man named Te Lu, a writer attached to the Manchu 
Field Force, of the 8th squad of the ‘ Ting ’ Company. He 
went at once and informed the Japanese, who promptly sent a 
picquet to the inn mentioned. Two or three men were standing 
about in the courtyard, and the soldiers asked one of them 
whether En Hai was there. ‘ I’m the man,’ said he, whereupon 
they took him prisoner. Under examination, En was perfectly 
calm and showed no sort of emotion. The presiding Magistrate 
enquired : ‘ Was it you who slew the German Minister? ’ He 
replied ; * I received orders from my Sergeant to kill every 
foreigner that came up the street. I am a soldier, and I only 
know it is my duty to obey orders. On that day I was with 
my men, some thirty of them, in the street, when a foreigner 
came along in a sedan chair. At once I took up my stand a 
little to the side of the street, and, taking careful aim, fired 
into the chair. Thereupon the bearers fled : we went up to the 
c^air, dragged the foreigner out, and saw that he was dead. 
I felt a watch in his breast pocket and took it as my lawful 
share; my comrades appropriated a revolver, some rings and 
other articles. I never thought that this watch would lead to 
my detection, but I am glad to die for having killed one of the 
enemies of my country. Please behead me at once. ’ 

‘‘The interpreter asked him whether he was drunk at the 
time. He laughed and said, ‘ Wine’s a fine thing, and I can 
put away four or five catties at a time, but that day I had not 
touched a drop. Do you suppose I would try to screen myself 
on the score of being in liquor? ’ This En Hai appears to 
have been an honest fellow ; his words were brave and dignified, 
so that the bystanders all realised that China is not without 
heroes in the ranks of her army. On the following day he was 
handed over to the Germans, and beheaded on the scene of his 
exploit. We, your Memorialists, feel that Your Majesties 
should be made acquainted with his meritorious behaviour, and 
we therefore report the above facts. We are of opinion that 
his name should not be permitted to fall into oblivion, and we 
trust that Your Majesties may be pleased to confer upon him 
honours as in the case of one who has fallen in battle with his 
face to the foe.*^ 



The diarist, Ching Shan, has described in detail the 
flight of the Empress Dowager and Emperor from Peking, 
before dawn, on the morning of the 15th August. From 
an account of the Court’s journey, subsequently written 
by the Grand Secretary, Wang Wen-shao, to friends 
in Chekiang, and published in one of the vernacular 
papers of Shanghai, we obtain valuable corroboration 
of the diarist’s accuracy, together with much interesting 

Wang Wen-shao overtook Their Majesties at Huai-lai on 
the 1 8th August; for the past three days they had suffered 
dangers and hardships innumerable. On the evening of 
the 19th they had stopped at Kuanshih (seventy li from 
Peking), where they slept in the Mosque. There the 
Mahommedan trading firm of “Tung Kuang yii ” (the 
well-known contractors for the hire of pack animals for 
the northern caravan trade) had supplied them with the 
best of the poor food available — coarse flour, vegetables, 
and millet porridge — and had provided mule litters for 
the next stage of the journey. As the troops of the escort 
had been ordered to remain at some distance behind, so 
long as there was any risk of pursuit by the Allies’ cavalry, 
Their Majesties* arrival was unannounced, and their identity 
unsuspected. As they descended from their carts, travel- 
stained, weary, and distressed, they were surrounded by a 
large crowd of refugee idlers and villagers, eager for news 
from the capital. An eye-witness of the scene has reported 
that, looking nervously about him, the Emperor teid, 
“We have to thank the Boxers for this,” wherfeupon the 
Old Buddha, undaunted even at the height of her misfor- 
tunes, bade him be silent. 

217 * 

2i8 china under the EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Next day they travelled, by mule litter, ninety li (thirty- 
two miles) and spent the night at Ch’a-Tao, just beyond 
the Great Wall. Here no preparations of any kind had 
been made for their reception, and they suffered much 
hardship, sleeping on the brick platform (k’ang) without 
any adequate bedding. But the Magistrate of Yen-Ch’ing 
chou had been able to find a blue sedan-chair for Her 
Majesty, who had thus travelled part of the day in greater 
comfort. Also at midday, stopping to eat at Chii-yung 
kuan, Li Lien-ying, the chief eunuch, had obtained a few 
teacups from the villagers. 

On the i6th they travelled from Ch’a-Tao to Huai-lai, 
a hard stage of fifty li. Some of the officials and Chamber- 
lains of the Court now joined Their Majesties, so that the 
party consisted of seventeen carts, in addition to the Old 
Buddha’s palanquin and the Emperor’s mule litter. As 
the cortege advanced, and the news of their flight was 
spread abroad, rumours began to be circulated that they 
were pretenders, personating the Son of Heaven and the 
Old Buddha, rumours due, no doubt, to the fact that Her 
Majesty was still wearing her hair in the Chinese manner, 
and that her clothes were the common ones in which she 
had escaped from the Forbidden City. In spite of these 
rumours the Magistrate of Huai-lai, a Hupeh man (Wu 
Yung), had received no intimation of Their Majesties’ 
coming, and, when the Imperial party, accompanied by 
an enormous crowd, entered his Yam^n, he had no time 
to put on his official robes, but rushed down to receive 
them as he was. After prostrating himself, he wanted to 
clear out the noisy and inquisitive rabble, but the Old 
Buddha forbade him, saying: “Not so; let them crowd 
around us as much as they like. It amuses me to see these 
honest country folk.” Here, after three days of coarse fare, 
the Empress Dowager rejoiced once more in a meal of 
birds’-nest soup and sharks’ fins, presented by the Magis- 
trate, who also furnished her with an outfit of woman’s 
clothing and suits for the Emperor and the Heir Apparent, 
for all of which he received Her Majesty’s repeated and 
grateful thtmks. 



It ^as here, at Huai-lai, while the Court was taking a 
day’s rest, that Wang Wen-shao came up with them. He 
was cordially, even affectionately, greeted by the Old 
Buddha, who condoled with him on the hardships to which 
he had been exposed, and insisted on his sharing her birds - 
nest soup, which, she said, he would surely enjoy as much 
as she had done after so many and great privations. She 
rebuked the Emperor for not greeting the aged Councillor 
with warm thanks for his touching devotion to the Throne. 

From Huai-lai, Prince Ch’ing was ordered to return to 
Peking to negotiate terms of peace with the Allies. Know- 
ing the difficulties of this task, he went reluctantly ; before 
leaving he had a long audience with Her Majesty, who 
assured him of her complete confidence in his ability to 
make terms, and bade him adopt a policy similar to that of 
Prince Kung in i860. 

Wang Wen-shao’s account of the first part of the 
Court’s journey is sufficiently interesting to justify textual 

“Their Majesties fled from the palace at the dawn of day in 
common carts. It was only after their arrival at Kuan-shih that 
they were provided with litters. The Emperor and Prince Pu’ 
Lun rode on one cart until their arrival at Huai-lai, where the 
District Magistrate furnished a palanquin, and later on, at 
Hsuan-hua, four large sedan chairs were found for the Imperial 
party. It was at this point that the Emperor’s Consort over- 
took Their Majesties. 

“So hurried was the flight that no spare clothes had been 
taken ; the Empress Dowager was very shabbily dressed, so as 
to be almost unrecognisable, the Chinese mode of hair-dressing 
producing a very remarkable alteration in her appearance. On 
the first night after leaving Peking, they slept, like travellers 
of the lowest class, on the raised brick platform of the inn, 
where not even rice was obtainable for the evening meal, so that 
they were compelled to eat common porridge made of millet. 
In all the disasters recorded in history, never has there been 
such a pitiful spectacle. ' 

“It was only after reaching Huai-lai that their condition 
improved somewhat, but even then the number* of personal 
attendants and eunuchs was very small, and not a single con- 
cubine was there to wait upon the Old Buddha. For the first 
few days’ flight, neither Prince Li, nor Jung Lu, nor Ch’i Hsiu 

220 china under the empress dowager 

(all of them Girand Councillors), were in attendance so that Her 
Majesty nominated Prince Tuan to serve on the Council. She 
reviled him at the outset severely, reproaching him for the 
misfortunes which had overtaken the Dynasty, but as time went 
on, as he Shared with her the privations and troubles of the day's 
journey, she became more gracious towards him. This was to 
some extent due to the very great influence which Prince Tuan's 
wife exercised at Court. 

“ When I reached Huai-lai, the Court consisted of the Princes 
Tuan, Ch'ing, Na, Su, and P'u Lun, with a following of high 
oflicials led by Kang Yi, and some twenty Secretaries. General 
Ma’s troops and some of the Banner Corps of Prince Tuan 
formed the Imperial escort; and they plundered every town and 
village on their line of march. This, however, is hardly remark- 
able, because all the shops had been closed and there were no 
provisions to be purchased anywhere. 

“To go back for a few days. Yu Lu (Viceroy of Chihli) shot 
himself in a coffin shop at a place south of the Hunting Park, 
and Li Ping-heng took poison after the defeat of his troops 
at T'ungchou. The Court's flight had already been discussed 
after the first advance of the Allies from T'ungchou towards 
Peking; but the difficulty in providing sufficient transport was 
considered insuperable. On the 19th of the Moon a steady 
cannonade began at about midnight, and from my house in 
Magpie Lane, one could note, by the volume of sound, that the 
attack was steadily advancing closer to the city, and eventually 
bullets came whistling as fiiick as hail. The bombardment 
reached its height at about noon on the 20th, when news was 
brought that two gates of the Imperial City had been taken by 
storm. I was unable to verify this report. It was my turn 
for night duty at the Palace, but after the last audience, I was 
unable to enter the Forbidden City, as all its gates were barred. 
It was only at 7 a.m. on the 21st inst. (August 15th) that I was 
able 'to gain admittance to the Forbidden City, and then I 
learned that Their Majesties had hurriedly fled. On the previous 
day five urgent audiences with the Grand Council had been held ; 
at the last of these only Kang Yi, Chao Shu-ch'iao, and myself 
were present. Sadly regarding us, the Old Buddha said, * I see 
there are only three of you left. No doubt all the rest have fled, 
leaving us, mother and son, to our fate. I want you all to 
Qome with me on my journey.' Turning to me she then said, 
‘ You are too old. I would not wish you to share in all this 
hardship. Follow us as best you can later on. ' The Emperor 
expressed his wishes in the same sense. 

“ By this time it was nearly midnight, and they still hesitated 
about leaving the city ; judge then of my surprise to learn that, 
at the first streak of dawn. Their Majesties had left the city in 
indescribable disorder and frantic haste. 1 could not return to 



my house that day because all the gates of the Imperial City 
were closed, but at lo a.m. on the following day, I made my way 
out of the Hovimen.^ On my way I came across Jung Lu; he 
had fainted in his chair, and had been forsaken by his cowardly 
bearers. He said : ‘ This is the end. You and I nevdr believed 
in these Boxers ; see now to what a pass they have brought the 
Old Buddha. U you see Her Majesty, tell her that I have gone 
to rally the troops, and that, if I live, I will join her later on. * 
“After leaving Jung Lu I made my way to a little temple 
which lies midway between the North and the North-West 
Gates of the city, and there I rested a while. It was the opinion 
of the Abbot in charge that the foreigners would burn every 
temple of the city, as all of them had been used by the Boxers 
for their magic rites, and he said that, in times of dire peril, 
such as this, it was really inconvenient for him to offer any 
hospitality to visitors. Just at this moment news was brought 
us that the foreign troops were on the wall of the city, between 
the two gates nearest to us, and that they were firing down 
upon the streets ; the city was already invested, but the foreigners 
were not molesting civilians, though they were shooting all 
* braves * and men in uniform. As the priest declined to receive 
me, I sought refuge at the house of a man named Han, retainer 
in the Imperial Household, who lived close by. All my chair- 
bearers and servants had fled. Shortly after noon I heard that 
one might still leave Peking by the Hsi-chih Men; so leaving 
everything — carts, chairs, and animals — where they were, I 
started off at dusk on foot with such money and clothing as I 
had on my person. The road ahead of me was blocked by a 
dense crowd of refugees. I took the road by the Drum Tower, 
skirting the lakes to the north of the Imperial City. Towards 
evening a dreadful thunderstorm came on, so I took refuge for 
the night with the Ching family. The bombardment had ceased 
by this time, but the whole northern part of the Imperial City 
appeared to be in flames, which broke out in fresh places all 
through the night. At three in the morning we heard that the 
West Gates were opened, and the City Guards had fled, but 
that the foreigners had not yet reached that part of the city. 

“ I had intended to travel by cart, but the disorganised troops 
had by this time seized every available beast of burden. My 
second son, however, was luckily able to persuade Captain Liu 
to fetch one of my carts out from the city, and this was done 
after several narrow escapes. I had left Peking on foot, but 
at the bridge close to the North-West Gate I found -^is cart 
awaiting me, and with it my second son, who was riding on a 
mule, and the five servants who remained to us following oil 
foot. When we reached Hai-Tien (a town which lies close to 

* The North Gate of the Imperial City. 


the Summer Palace) every restaurant was closed, but we 
managed to get a little food, and then hurried on after Their 
Majesties to. Kuan-shih, where we passed the night. Next day, 
continuing our journey, we learned that Their Majesties were 
halting at Huai-lai, where we overtook them on the 24th day of 
the Moon. We expect to reach T’ai-yiian fu about the middle 
of next week. 

“The dangers of our journey are indescribable. Every shop 
on the road had been plundered by bands of routed troops, who 
pretend to be part of the Imperial escort. These bandits are 
ahead of us at every stage of the journey, and they have stripped 
the country-side bare, so that when the Imperial party reaches 
any place, and the escort endeavour to commandeer supplies, 
the distress of the inhabitants and the confusion which ensues 
are really terrible to witness. The districts through which we 
have passed are literally devastated!” 

From Huai-lai the Court moved on to Hsiian-hua fu, a 
three days’ march, and there remained for four days, rest- 
ing and preparing for the journey into Shansi. The 
Border Warden at Sha-ho ch^n had provided Their 
Majesties with green (official) sedan-chairs, and the usual 
etiquette of the Court and Grand Council was being 
gradually restored. Her Majesty’s spirits were excellent, 
and she took a keen interest in everything. At Chi-ming 
yi, for instance, she was with difficulty dissuaded from 
stopping to visit a temple on the summit of an adjoining 
hill, in honour of which shrine the Emperor Kangshi had 
left a tablet carved with a memorial inscription in verse. 

At Hsiian-hua fu there was considerable disorder, but 
the Court enjoyed increased comforts; thanks to the zeal 
and energy of the local Magistrate (Ch’en Pen). Here the 
Old Buddha received Prince Ch’ing’s first despatch from 
Peking, which gave a deplorable account of the situation. 

The Court left Hsiian-hua on the 25th August (its 
numbers being increased by the Emperor’s Consort with a 
few of her personal attendants) and spent the night at a 
garrison station called Tso-Wei. The deplorable state of 
the country was reflected in the accommodation they found 
there ; for the guards had fled, and the official quarters had 
all been plundered and burnt, with the exception of two 
small rooms, evil-smelling and damp. There was no food 


to be had, except bread made of sodden flour. One of the 
two available rooms was occupied by the Old Buddha, the 
other by Kuahg Hsii and his Consort, while all the officials 
of the Court, high and low, fared as best they "tnight in 
the stuffy courtyard. For once the venerable mother's 
composure deserted her. “This is abominable,” she com- 
plained; “the place swarms with insects, and I cannot 
sleep a wink. It is disgraceful that I should have come 
to such a pass at my time of life. My state is worse even 
than that of the Emperor Hsiian-Tsung of the T'ang 
Dynasty, who ‘was forced to fly from his capital, and saw 
his favourite concubine murdered before his very eyes.” 
An unsubstantiated report that the Allies had plundered 
her palace treasure-vaults was not calculated to calm Her 
Majesty, and for a while the suite went in fear of her wrath. 

On August 27th the Court crossed the Shansi border, 
and spent the night at T'ien-chen hsien. The local Magis- 
trate, a Manchu, had committed suicide after hearing of the 
fall of Mukden and other Manchurian cities; and the 
town was in a condition of ruinous disorder. Their Majes- 
ties supped off a meal hastily provided by the Gaol 
Warder. But their courage was restored by the arrival of 
Ts’en Ch’un-hsiian,^ an official of high intelligence and 
courage, who greatly pleased the Old Buddha by bringing 
her a gift of eggs and a girdle and pouch for her pipe and 

On the 30th August the Court lay at Ta-t’ung fu, in the 
Yam6n of the local Brigadier-General. They stayed here 
four days, enjoying the greatly improved accommodation 
which the General's efforts had secured for them. 

On September 4th, they reached the market- town of 
T'ai-yiieh, having travelled thirty-five miles that day, and 
here again they found damp rooms and poor fare. But 
Her Majesty's spirits had recovered. On the i6th, while 
crossing the hill-pass of the “ Flighting Geese-,” ^ Her 
Majesty ordered a halt in order to enjoy the view./ “It 
reminds me of the Jehol country,” she said. Then, turning 

^ At that time Governor-designate of Shensi. He had come north 
with troops to defend the capital. 


to the Emperor, “After all, it’s delightful to get away 
like this from Peking and to see the world, isn’t it?” 
“Under happier circumstances, it would be,” replied 
Kuang Hsu. At this point Ts’en Ch’un-hsiian brought 
Her Majesty a large bouquet of yellow flowers, a present 
which touched her deeply : in return she sent him a jar 
of butter-milk tea. 

On the 7th, the only accommodation which the local 
officials had been able to prepare at Yiian-p’ing was a 
mud-house belonging to one of the common people, in 
which, by an oversight, several empty coffins had been 
left. Ts’en, arriving ahead of the party, was told of this, 
and galloped to make excuses to Her Majesty and take 
her orders. Happily, the “Motherly Countenance” was 
not moved to wrath, and “the divine condescension was 
manifested.” “If the coffins can be moved, move them,” 
she said; “but so long as they are not in the main room, 
I do not greatly mind their remaining.” They were all 
removed, however, and the Old Buddha was protected 
from possibly evil influences. 

On the 8th September, at Hsin Chou, three Imperial 
(yellow) chairs had been provided by the local officials, so 
that Their Majesties’ entrance into T’ai-yiian fu, on the 
loth, was not unimposing. The Court took up its residence 
in the Governor’s Yamen (that same bloodstained building 
in which, six weeks before, Yii Hsien had massacred the 
missionaries.) Yii Hsien, the Governor, met their Im- 
perial Majesties outside the city walls, and knfelt by the 
roadside as the Old Buddha’s palanquin came up. She 
bade her bearers stop, and called to him to approach. 
When he had done so, she said : “ At your farewell audi- 
ence, in the last Moon of the last year, you assured me 
that the Boxers were really invulnerable. Alas ! You 
were wrong, and now Peking has fallen I But you did 
splendidly in carrying out my orders and in ridding Shansi 
of the whole brood of foreign devils. Everyone speaks 
well of you for this, and I know, besides, how high is 
your reputation for good and honest work. Neverthe- 
less, and because the foreign devils are loudly calling for 



vengeance upon you, I may have to dismiss you from 
office, as I had to do with Li Ping-heng: but be not 
disturbed in mind, for if I do this, it is only to throw dust 
in the eyes of the barbarians, for our own ends. W e must 
just bide our time, and hope for better days.” 

Yii Hsien “ko-towed,” as in duty bound, nine times, and 
replied: “Your Majesty’s slave caught them as in a net, 
and allowed neither chicken nor dog to escape : yet am I 
ready to accept punishment and dismissal from my post. 
As to the Boxers, they have been defeated because they 
failed to abide by the laws of the Order, and because they 
killed and plundered innocent people who were not 

This conversation was clearly heard by several by- 
standers, one of whom reported it in a letter to Shanghai. 
When Yii Hsien had finished speaking, the Old Buddha 
sighed, and told her bearers to proceed. A few days later 
she issued the first of the Expiatory Decrees by which 
Yii Hsien and other Boxer leaders were dismissed from 
office, but not before she had visited the courtyard where 
the hapless missionaries had met their fate, and cross- 
examined Yii Hsien on every detail of that butchery. And 
it is recorded, that, while she listened eagerly to this tale 
of unspeakable cowardice and cruelty, the Heir Apparent 
was swaggering noisily up and down the courtyard, 
brandishing the huge sword given him by Yii Hsien, with 
which his devil’s work had been done. No better example 
could be cited of this remarkable woman’s primitive in- 
stincts and elemental passion of vindictiveness. 

Once more, during the Court’s residence at T’ai-yiian, 
did the Old Buddha and Yii Hsien meet. At this audi- 
ence, realising the determination of the foreigners to exact 
the death penalty in this case, and realising also the 
Governor’s popularity with the inhabitants of T’ai-yiian, 
she told him, with unmistakable significance, that the price 
of coffins was rising, a plain but euphemistic hint that he 
would do well to commit suicide before a worsc^^fate ’over- * 
took him. 

Her Majesty was much gratified at the splendid accom- 



modation provided for her at T’ai-yiian, and particularly 
pleased to see all the gold and silver vessels and utensils 
that had been made in 1775 for Ch’ien Lung’s progress to 
the sacred shrines of Wu-T’ai shan ; they had been polished 
up for the occasion and made a brave show, so that the 
“Benevolent Countenance” beamed with delight. “We 
have nothing like this in Peking,” she said. 

Jung Lu joined the Court on the day after its arrival at 
T’ai-yuan, and was most affectionately welcomed by the 
Old Buddha, to whom he gave a full account of his journey 
through Chihli and of the widespread devastation wrought 
by the Boxers. 

TzQ Hsi asked Jung Lu for his advice as to her future 
policy. Bluntly, as was his wont, he replied : “Old Buddha, 
there is only one way. You must behead Prince Tuan and 
all the rest of the Princes and Ministers who misled you 
and then you must return to Peking.” 

An incident, vouched for by a high Manchu official 
attached to the Court, illustrates the relations at this lime 
existing between the Emperor, the Empress Dowager, and 
Jung Lu. When the latter reached T’ai-yuan fu, Kuang- 
Hsii sent a special messenger to summon him. “I am 
glad you have come at last,” said His Majesty. “ I desire 
that you will have Prince Tuan executed without delay.” 

“How can I do so without the Empress Dowager’s 
orders?” he replied. “The days are past when no other 
Decree but Your Majesty’s was needed.” ^ 

Jung Lu’s position, but for the high favour of the 
Empress Dowager, would have been full of danger, for 
he was disliked by reactionaries and reformers alike ; sur- 
rounded by extremists, his intuitive common sense, his 
doctrine of the “ happy mean ” had made him many 
enemies. Nor could he lay claim to a reputation for that 
“purest integrity ” which he had so greatly admired in his 
colleague Ch’ung Ch’i. At T’ai-yiian fu, he was openly 
denounced to the Old Buddha for having connived in the 
embezzlements of a certain Ch’en Ts 3 -iin, who had been 

* An allusion to Kuang-Hsu’s order for Jung Lu’s summary execution 
in September 1898. 


robbing the Military Treasury on a grand scale. Jung 
Lu had ordered that his defalcations be made good, but 
subsequently informed the Throne that the money had been 
captured by the Allies, and the accusing Censor did not 
hesitate to say that the price of his conversion (brought 
to his quarters by the hands of a sergeant named Yao) 
had been forty thousand taels of silver, twenty pounds of 
best birds’-nests, and four cases of silk. The Empress 
Dowager shelved the Memorial, as was her wont, though 
no doubt she used the information for the irifimate benefit 
of her privy purse. Jung Lu also received vast sums of 
money and many valuable presents on his birthday, and 
at the condolence ceremonies for the death of his wife, so 
much so that he incurred the fierce jealousy of the chief 
eunuch Li Lien-ying, who was doing his best at this time 
to re-feather his own nest, despoiled by the troops of 
the Allies. 

At T’ai-yiian fu, so many officials had joined the Court 
that intrigues became rife; there was much heartburning 
as to precedence and status. Those who had borne the 
burden and heat of the day, the dangers and the hardships 
of the flight from Peking, claimed special recognition and 
seniority at the hands of Their Imperial Mistress. Each 
of these thought they should be privileged above those of 
equal rank who had only rejoined the Court when all 
danger was past, and still more so above those who were 
now hurrying up from the provinces in search of 

The chief topic of discussion at audience, and at meetings 
of the Grand Council, was the question of the Court’s 
return to Peking, or of the removal of the capital to one 
of the chief cities of the south or west. Chang Chih- 
tung had put in a memorial, strongly recommending the 
city of Tang-Yang in Hupei, on account of its central 
position. One of the arguments gravely put forward by 
the ‘‘scholarly bungler” for This proposal w^s, that the 
characters “Tang-Yang” (which mean “facing south”) 
were in themselves of good augury, and an oinen of better 
days to come, because the always sits with hii 


face to the south. Chang’s enemies at Court saw in this 
idea a veiled hint that the Emperor should be restored 
to pow^r. 

But Jung Lu was now facile princeps in the Old 
Buddha’s counsels, and at audience his colleagues of the 
Grand Council (Lu Ch’uan-lin and Wang Wen-shao) 
followed his lead implicitly. He never ceased to advise 
the Empress to return forthwith to Peking, and, when at 
a later date she decided on this step, it was rather because 
of her faith In his sound judgment than because of the 
many memorials sent in from other high officials. During 
the Court’s stay at T’ai-yiian fu, argument on this subject 
was continual, but towards the end of September rumours 
reached Her Majesty that the Allies were sending a swift 
punitive expedition to avenge the murdered missionaries; 
this decided her to leave at once for Hsi-an fu, where she 
would feel safe from further pursuit. The Court left 
accordingly on the 30th September; but as the preserva- 
tion of ‘‘face ” before the world is a fundamental principle, 
with Empresses as with slave-girls, in China, her departure 
was announced in the following brief Edict : — 

“As Shansi province is suffering from famine, which makes 
it very difficult to provide for our needs, and as the absence of 
telegraphic communication there causes all manner of incon- 
venient delays, we are compelled to continue our progress 
westwards to Hsi-an.” 

The journey into Shensi was made with all due provision 
for the dignity and comfort of Their Majesties, but the 
Empress was overcome by grief en route at the death of 
Kang Yi, chief patron of the Boxers, and the most bigoted 
and violent of all the reactionaries near the Throne. He 
fell ill at a place called Hou Ma, and died in three days, 
although the Vice-President of the Board of Censors, Ho 
Nai-ying, obtained leave to remain behind and nurse him. 
The Old Buddha was most reluctant to leave the invalid, 
and showed unusual emotion. After his death she took 
a kindly interest in his son (who followed the Court to 
Hsi-an) and would frequently speak to him of his father’s 
patriotism and loyalty. 


At Hsi-an fu the Court occupied the Governor’s official 
residence, into which Her Majesty removed after residing 
for a while in the buildings formerly set apart for the 
temporary accommodation of the Viceroy of Kansuh and 
Shensi on visits of inspection. Both Yam6ns had been 
prepared for Their Majesties’ use; the walls had been 
painted Imperial red, and the outer Court surrounded with 
a palisade, beyond which were the quarters of the Imperial 
Guards, and the makeshift lodgings of the Metropolitan 
Boards and the officials of the nine Minis^^ies on palace 
duty. The arrangements of the Court, though restricted 
in the matter of space, were on much the same lines as 
in Peking. The main hall of the “Travelling Palace ” was 
left empty, the side halls being used as ante-chambers for 
officials awaiting audience. Behind the main hall was a 
room to which access was given by a door with six panels, 
two of which were left open, showing the Throne in the 
centre of the room, upholstered in yellow silk. It was 
here that Court ceremonies took place. On the left of this 
room was the apartment where audiences were held daily, 
and behind this again were the Empress Dowager’s bed- 
room and private sitting-room. The Emperor and his 
Consort occupied a small apartment communicating with 
the Old Buddha’s bedroom, and to the west of these again 
were three small rooms, occupied by the Heir Apparent. 
The chief eunuch occupied the room next to that of the 
Old Buddha on the east side. The general arrangements 
for the comfort and convenience of the Court were neces- 
sarily of a makeshift and provisional character and the 
Privy Purse was for a time at a low ebb, so that Her 
Majesty was much exercised over the receipt and safe 
custody of the tribute, in money and in kind, which came 
flowing in from the provinces. So long as the administra- 
tion of her household was under the supervision of 
Governor Ts’en, the strictest economy was practised; for 
instance, the amount allowed by him for the upkeep .of 
Their Majesties’ table was two hundred taels* (about £ 2 ^ 
per day, which, as the Old Buddha remarked on one 
occasion, was about one-tenth of the ordinary expenditure 


under the same heading at Peking. “We are living 
cheaply now,” she said; to which the Governor replied: 
“The amount could still be reduced with advantage.” 

Her Majesty’s custom, in selecting the menus for the 
day, was to have a list of about one hundred dishes brought 
in every evening by the eunuch on duty. After the priva- 
tions of the flight from Peking, the liberal supply of 
swallows* nests and beche de mer which came in from the 
south was very much appreciated, and her rough fare of 
chickens andv^ggs gave way to recherche menus ; but the 
Emperor, as usual, limited himself to a diet of vegetables. 
She gave orders that no more than half a dozen dishes 
should be served at one meal, and she took personal pains 
with the supply of milk, of which she always consumed a 
considerable quantity. Six cows were kept in the imme- 
diate vicinity of the Imperial apartments, for the feeding 
of which Her Majesty was charged two hundred taels a 
month. Her health was good on the whole, but she 
suffered from indigestion, which she attributed to the 
change of climate and the fatigues of her journey. For 
occasional attacks of insomnia she had recourse to mas- 
sage, in which several of the eunuchs were well skilled. 
After the Court had settled down at Hsi-an fu, Her Majesty 
was again persuaded to permit the presentation of plays, 
which she seemed generally to enjoy as much as those in 
Peking. But her mind was for ever filled with anxiety as 
to the progress of the negotiations with the foreign Powers 
at the capital, and all telegrams received were brought to 
her at once. The news of the desecration of her Summer 
Palace had filled her with wrath and distress, especially 
when, in letters from the eunuch Sun (who had remained in 
charge at Peking), she learned that her Throne had been 
thrown into the lake, and that the soldiers had made “lewd 
and ribald drawings and writings’* even on the walls of 
her bedroom. It was with the greatest relief that she 
heard of the settlement of the terms of peace, subsequently 
recorded in the Protocol of 7th of September, and so soon 
as these terms had been irrevocably arranged, she issued 
a Decree (June 1901) fixing the date for the Court’s return 


in September, This Decree, issued in the name of the 
Emperor, was as follows : 

“Our Sacred Mother’s advanced ag’e renders it necessary that 
we should take the greatest care of her health, so that she may 
attain to peaceful longevity; a long journey in the heat being 
evidently undesirable, we have fixed on the 19th day of the 7th 
Moon (ist September) to commence our return journey, and 
are now preparing to escort Her Majesty, vid Honan.” 

One of the most notorious Boxer leaders, namely, Duke 
Kung, the younger brother of Prince Chuang, had accom- 
panied the Court, with his family, to Hsi-an. The Old 
Buddha, realising that his presence would undoubtedly 
compromise her, now decided to send him away. His 
family fell from one state of misery to another; no assist- 
ance was rendered to them by any officials on the journey, 
and eventually, after much wandering, the Duke was com- 
pelled to earn a bare living by serving as a subordinate 
in a small Yamdn, while his wife, who was young and 
comely, was sold into slavery. It was clear that the Old 
Buddha had now realised the error of her ways and the 
folly that had been committed in encouraging the Boxers. 
After the executions and suicides of the proscribed leaders 
of the movement she was heard on one occasion to remark : 
“These Princes and Ministers were wont to bluster and 
boast, relying upon their new kinship to ourselves, and we 
foolishly believed them when they assured us that the 
foreign devils would never get the better of China. In 
their folly they came within an ace of overthrowing our 
Dynasty. The only one whose fate I regret is Chao Shu- 
ch*iao. For him I am truly sorry.” 

The fate of Prince Chuang’s brother showed clearly that 
both officials and people had realised the genuine change 
in the Empress Dowager’s feelings towards the Boxers, for 
there was none so poor to do him honour. 

Both on the journey to Hsi-an fu and on the return to 
the capital, Her Majesty displayed the greatest interest in 
the lives of the peasantry and the condition* of the people 
generally. She subscribed liberally to the famine fund in 
Shansi, professing the greatest sympathy for the stricken 


people. She told the Emperor that she had never appre- 
ciated their sufferings in the seclusion of her palace. 

During the Court’s stay at Hsi-an fu the Emperor came 
to take more interest in State affairs than he had done at 
any time since the coup d^etaty but although the Old 
Buddha discussed matters with him freely, and took his 
opinion, he had no real voice in the decision of any impor- 
tant matter. His temper continued to be uncertain and 
occasionally violent, so that many high officials of the 
Court preferred always to take their business to the 
Empress Dowager. One important appointment was made 
at this time by the Old Buddha at the Emperor’s personal 
request, viz., that of Sun Chia-nai (ex-Imperial tutor) to 
the Grand Secretariat. This official had resigned office in 
January 1900 upon the selection of the Heir Apparent, 
which he regarded as equivalent to the deposition of the 
Emperor. Subsequently, throughout the Boxer troubles, 
he had remained in his house at Peking, which was plun- 
dered, and he himself would undoubtedly have been killed, 
but for the protection given him by Jung Lu. At this 
time also, Lu Ch’uan-lin joined the Grand Council. When 
the siege of the Legations began, he had left his post as 
Governor of Kiangsu, and marched north with some three 
thousand men to defend Peking against the foreigners. 
Before he reached the capital, however, it had fallen, so 
that, after disbanding his troops, he went for a few weeks 
to his native place in Chihli and thence proceeded to join 
the Court at Ta-T’ung fu, where the Old Buddha received 
him most cordially. His case is particularly interesting in 
that he was until his death a member of the Grand 
Council,^ and that, like many other high officials at Peking, 
his ideas of the art of government and the relative position 
of China in the world, remained exactly as they were before 
the Boxer movement. His action in proceeding to Peking 
with his troops from his post in the south is also interest- 
ing, as showing the semi-independent position of provincial 
officials, and the free hand which any man of strong views 
may claim and enjoy. The Viceroys of Nanking and 
^ Deceased, 26th August 1 910. 


Wu-ch*ang might dare to oppose the wishes of the Empress 
Dowager, and to exercise their own judgment as regards 
declaring war upon foreigners, but it was equally open 
to any of their subordinates to differ from them, and to 
take such steps as they might personally consider proper, 
even to the movement of troops. 

An official, one of the many provincial deputies charged 
with the carrying of tribute to the Court at Hsi-an, return- 
ing thence to his post at Soochow, sent to a friend at 
Peking a detailed description of the life of the Court in 
exile, from which the following extracts are taken. The 
document, being at that time confidential and not intended 
for publication, throws some light on the Court and its 
doings which is lacking in official documents: — 

“The Empress Dowager is still in sole charge of affairs, and 
controls everything in and around the Court ; those who exercise 
the most influence with her are Jung Lu and Lu Ch’uan-lin. 
Governor Ts^en, has fallen into disfavour of late. His Majesty’s 
advisers are most anxious that she should return to Peking. 
She looks very young and well; one would not put her age at 
more than forty, whereas she is really sixty-four. The Emperor 
appears to be generally depressed, but he has been putting on 
flesh lately. The Heir Apparent is fifteen years of age; fat, 
coarse-featured, and of rude manners. He favours military 
habits of deportment and dress, and to see him when he goes 
to the play, wearing a felt cap with gold braid, a leather jerkin, 
and a red military overcoat, one would take him for a prize- 
fighter. He knows all the young actors and rowdies, and 
associates generally with the very lowest classes. He is a good 
rider, however, and a very fair musician. If, at the play-houses, 
the music goes wrong, he will frequently get up in his place and 
rebuke the performer, and at times he even jumps on to the 
stage, possesses himself of the instrument, and plays the piece 
himself. All this brings the boy into disrepute with respectable 
people, and some of his pranks have come to the ears of the 
Old Buddha, who they say has had him severely whipped. His 
last offence was to commence an intrigue with one of the ladies- 
in-waiting on Her Majesty, for which he got into serious 
trouble. He is much in the company of Li Lien-ying' (the chief 
eunuch), who leads him into tlie wildest dissipation.^ My 
friend Kao, speaking of him the other day, wittily said, that 
‘ from being an expectant Emperor, he would soon become a 
deposed Heir Apparent ’ ; which is quite true, for he never reads, 
^ As be had done for Tzu Hsi*^ son, the Emperor T’ung-Chih. 


all his tastes are vicious, and his manners rude and overbearing. 
To give you an instance of his doings : on the i8th of the loth 
Moon, accompanied by his brother and by his uncle, the Boxer 
Duke Lan, and followed by a crowd of eunuchs, he eot mixed 
up in a hght with some Kansu braves at a theatre in the Temple 
of the City God. The eunuchs got the worst of it, and some 
minor officials who were in the audience were mauled by the 
crowd. The trouble arose, in the first instance, because of the 
eunuchs attempting to claim the best seats in the house, and 
the sequel shows to what lengths of villainy these fellows will 
descend, and how great is their influence with the highest 
officials. The eunuchs were afraid to seek revenge on the Kansu 
troops direct, but they attained their end by denouncing the 
manager of the theatre to Governor Ts’en, and by inducing him 
to close every theatre in Hsi-an. Besides which, the theatre 
manager was put in a wooden coUar, and thus ignominiously 
paraded through the streets of the city. The Governor was 
induced to take this action on the ground that Her Majesty, 
sore distressed at the famine in Shansi and the calamities which 
have overtaken China, was offended at these exhibitions of 
unseemly gaiety; and the proclamation which closed the play- 
houses, ordered also that restaurants and other places of public 
entertainment should suspend business. Everybody in the city 
knew that this was the work of the eunuchs. Eventually Chi 
Lu, Chamberlain of the Household, was able to induce the chief 
eunuch to ask the Old Buddha to give orders that the theatres 
be reopened. This was accordingly done, but of course the 
real reason was not given, and the Proclamation stated that, 
since the recent fall of snow justified hopes of a prosperous 
year and good harvests, as a mark of the people *s gratitude to 
Providence, the theatres would be reopened as usual, ‘ but no 
more disturbances must occur. ’ 


“It would seem that the Old Buddha still cherishes hopes 
of defeating the foreigners, for she is particularly delighted 
by a Memorial which has been sent in lately by Hsia Chen-wu, 
in which he recommends a certain aboriginal tribesman (‘ Man- 
tzu *) as a man of remarkable strategic ability. He offers to 
lose his own head and those of all his family, should this 
Heaven-sent warrior fail to defeat all the troops of the Allies 
in one final engagement, and he begs that the Emperor may 
permit this man to display his powers and thus save the 



When the wrath of the Powers had been appeased by 
the death and banishment of the leading- Boxers, and when 
the Empress Dowager had come to realise that her future 
policy must be one of conciliation and reform, she pro- 
ceeded first of all to adjust the annals of her reign for the 
benefit of posterity, in the following remarkable Edict (13th 
February 1901): — 

“In the summer of last year, the Boxers, after bringing about 
a state of war, took possession of our Capital and dominated 
the very Throne itself. The Decrees issued at that time were 
the work of wicked Princes and Ministers of State, who, taking 
advantage of the chaotic condition of affairs, did not hesitate to 
issue documents under the Imperial seal, which were quite con- 
trary to our wishes. We have on more than one previous 
occasion hinted indirectly at the extraordinary difficulty of the 
position in which we were placed, and which left us no alter- 
native but to act as we did. Our officials and subjects should 
have no difficulty in reading between the lines and appreciating 
our meaning. 

“We have now punished all the guilty, and we hereby order 
that the Grand Secretariat shall submit for our perusal all 
Decrees issued between the 24th day of the 5th Moon and the 
20th day of the 7th Moon (20th June to 14th August), so that all 
spurious or illegal documents may be withdrawn and cancelled. 
Thus shall historical accuracy be attained and our Imperial 
utterances receive the respect to which they are properly 

Having thus secured the respect of posterity, Tzu Hsi 
proceeded to make the amende honorable (with due 
regard to the Imperial “face”), for so many of her* sins as 
she was prepared to admit. In another Decree, in the. 
name of the Emperor, which gives a Miinchhausen account 
of the Throne’s part and lot in the crisis of 1900, and a 
pathetic description of her own and the Emperor’s suffer- 


ings during the flight, she makes solemn confession of 
error and promise of reform. As an example of the manner 
in which history is made in China, this Edict is of perma- 
nent interest and value, but it is too long for reproduction. 

It was issued in February, coincidently with Her 
Majesty’s acceptance of the conditions imposed by the 
Powers in the peace negotiations at Peking. From that 
date until, in June, the terms of the Protocol were definitely 
settled by the plenipotentiaries, her attitude continued to 
be one of nervous apprehension, while the discomfort of 
life at Hsi-an, as well as the advice repeatedly given her 
by Jung Lu and the provincial Viceroys, combined to 
make her look forward with impatience to the day when 
she might set out for her capital. 

There remained only one source of difficulty, namely, 
the presence of Prince Tuan’s son, the Heir Apparent, at 
her Court. Tzu Hsi was well aware that she could hardly 
look for cordial relations with the representatives of the 
Powers at Peking, or for sympathy abroad, so long as this 
son of the Boxer chief remained heir to the Throne. It 
would clearly be impossible, in the event of his becoming 
Emperor, for him to consent to his father remaining under 
sentence of banishment, and equally impossible to expect 
the Powers to consent to Prince Tuan’s rehabilitation and 
return. Yet the youth had been duly and solemnly ap- 
pointed to succeed to the Throne, a thing not lightly to be 
set aside. Once again the Old Buddha showed that the 
sacred laws of succession were less than a strong woman’s 

Politics apart, it was common knowledge that Tzu Hsi 
had for some time repented of her choice of Prince Tuan’s 
ill-mannered, uncouth son as Heir Apparent. More than 
once had she been brought to shame by his wild, and some- 
times disgraceful, conduct. Even in her presence, the lad 
paid little heed to the formalities of Court etiquette, and 
none at all to the dignity of his own rank and future posi- 
tion. Tz\x Hsi was therefore probably not sorry of the 
excuse for deposing him from that high estate. In the 
Decree cancelling his title to the Throne, she observed 



that his father, Prince Tuan, had brought the Empire to 
the verge oi ruin, and that the guilt which he had thus 
incurred towards his august ancestors could never be w'iped 
out. In order to save the “face” of the Heir Apparent 
and her own, in a difficult position, the Edict describes 
him as being fully convinced of the impossibility of his 
succeeding to the Throne under existing conditions, and 
that he himself had therefore petitioned Her Majesty to 
cancel her previous decision. In granting this request and 
directing him to remove himself forthwith from the palace 
precincts, the Empress conferred upon him the rank of an 
Imperial Duke of the lowest grade, excusing him at the 
same time from performance of any official duties in that 
capacity. By this decision she meant to mark the con- 
tempt into which the Heir Apparent had fallen, for the rank 
thus granted him was a low one, and, without any official 
duties or salary, he was condemned to a life of poverty and 
obscurity. This fallen Heir to the Dragon Throne is a 
well-known figure to-day in the lowest haunts of the 
Chinese city at Peking : a drunkard and disreputable 
character, living the life of a gambler, notorious only as 
a swashbuckler of romantic past and picturesque type, — 
one who, but for adverse fate and the accursed foreigner, 
would have been Emperor of China. 

Having deposed him, the Empress let it be known that 
the selection of an heir to the disconsolate shade of T’ung- 
Chih would be postponed “until a suitable candidate 
should be found,” an intimation generally understood to 
mean that the vital question of providing an heir in legiti- 
mate and proper succession to the Throne could not well 
be determined until China’s foreign relations, as well as 
her internal affairs, had been placed upon a basis of greater 
security. It is curious to note how, in all such utterances, 
it appears to have been tacitly understood that the Emperor 
Kuang Hsii was a “bad life.” * . 

Thus, in exile, the Old Buddha wore philosophically the 
white sheet of penance and burned the candle "of expiation, 
preparatory to re-entering anon upon a new lease of power 
in that Peking where, as she.well knew, the memory of the 


foreigner is short and his patience long. In June 1901 
the terms of peace were settled ; on the 7th September the 
Peace Protocol was solemnly signed by the representatives 
of all the Powers, that “monument of collective ineffi- 
ciency ” which was to sow the seeds of trouble to last for 
many years to come. At Hsi-an “in the profound seclu- 
sion of the palace’* she knew remorse, not unstimulated 
by fear; on the return journey to her capital (from 20th 
October 1901 to 6th January 1902), while preparing her 
arts and graces to captivate the barbarian, she was still a 
victim to doubt and apprehension. Meanwhile, at Peking, 
the mandarin world, reassured by the attitude of the peace 
negotiators and their terms, was fast shedding its garments 
of fear and peacocking as of yore, in renewed assurance 
of its own indisputable superiority. Evidence of this spirit 
was to be met with on all sides, gradually coming to its 
fine flower in the subsequent negotiations for the revision 
of the commercial Treaties, and bringing home once more, 
to those who study these things, the unalterable truth of 
the discovery made years ago by one of the earliest British 
representatives in China, namely, that “this people yields 
nothing to reason and everything to fear.** 

One of the most remarkable instances of this revival 
of the mandarin’s traditional arrogance of superiority 
occurred, significantly enough, in connection with the 
penitential mission of the Emperor’s brother. Prince Ch’un 
(now Regent), to Berlin, an episode which threatened for 
a moment to lead to a rupture between Germany and 
China. By Article i of the Peace Protocol, Prince Ch*un 
had been specially designated for this mission to convey 
in person to the German Emperor the regrets of the 
Chinese Government for the murder of Baron von Ketteler. 
He left Peking for the purpose on the 12th July 1901, with 
de^finite instructions as to the manner in which the Chinese 
GoVdt’hment’s regrets were to be expressed. The German 
Emperor’s proposals as to the form of ceremony to be 
followed in this matter were regarded by Prince Ch’un 
as incompatible with his instructions, and it will be remem- 
bered that, after some hesitation on the part of the German 


Government, the Chinese policy of passive resistance 
eventually carried the day. The following telegraphic 
correspondence on the subject is of permanent interest. 
Prince Ch’un (whose personal name is Tsai Feng) tele- 
graphed from Germany on the 26th September to the Peace 
Plenipotentiaries, Prince Ch’ing and Li Hung-chang, as 
follows : — 

“I have duly received the Grand Councirs message, and 
note that I am commanded to act as circumstances may require, 
and that a middle course is suggested as expedient. I fully 
appreciate the intelligent caution of your policy, and fortunately 
had already taken steps to act in the sense indicated. On the 
14th of this Moon the German Emperor had given orders to 
stop preparations for the ceremony, but as I noticed that the 
Royal train had not been withdrawn nor had his aide-de-camp 
left my suite, I inferred that there was a possibility of his 
yielding the points in dispute. Accordingly, after a long 
discussion of the situation with Yin Ch^ang, I directed him to 
write in German to Jeng-yintai ^ requesting his friendly inter- 
vention at the Foreign Office with a definite explanation that 
China could not possibly agree that the mission should be 
received kneeling, that Germany had nothing to gain on insist- 
ing upon such a procedure, and that the only result of a fiasco 
would be to make both countries appear extremely ridiculous. 
I therefore begged that the Emperor should accede to my 
personal appeal and waive the point. At the same time I 
requested the German gentleman who acts as Chinese Consul 
for Bavaria to address the Foreign Office to the same effect, 
and with a request that we might enter upon discussion of the 
point. Four days later I directed Lii Hai-huan to return to 
his post at Berlin to make such arrangements as might be 
possible, and on the following day I telegraphed to him a 
summary of the Grand CounciFs views on the matter. In the 
afternoon of the 20th I received the Consul for Bavaria, who 
informed me that he had received a telegram from the Foreign 
Office inquiring when I proposed to start for Berlin, and hoping 
that I would do so speedily, as the Emperor had now consented 
to waive the question of our kneeling, but required that only 
Yin Ch’ang should accompany me when presenting the letter 
of regret, the remainder of my suite to remain in* another 

“The same evening I received a message frofii Lii Hai- 
huan, stating that the Emperor would undoubtedly receive me, 
and that, since all other difficult questions had been settled, 

The Chinese rendering of a German name. 


His Majesty wished to leave for the country in a few days. 
Under these circumstances I did not consider it advisable to 
insist too strictly on minor details of etiquette, being pressed 
for time,^ and I therefore requested the German Emperor *s 
Chamberlain to have a special train prepared for my journey. 
We reached Potsdam at 3 p.m. on the 21st I was met by a 
General sent by the Emperor with his state carriage. Myself 
and my suite were lodged in the palace, where every attention 
was shown to us, and it was arranged that I should fulfil my 
mission on the following day, after depositing a wreath on the 
grave of the late Empress. On the morning of the, folio wing 
day I visited tomb, and at noon the state carriage came 
to take me to the New Palace, where, after being ushered into 
the Emperor’s presence, I read aloud Their Majesties’ com- 
plimentary letter. The members, of my suite were awaiting in 
an adjoining apartment. After the ceremony I was escorted 
back to my residence, and at 2 p.m. the Emperor came to call 
upon me. He was very cordial and remained talking with 
me for a long time. By his orders a steam launch was provided 
for me, in which I visited the Lake and Peacock Island ; on the 
following day I saw a review of the troops, and was presented 
to the Empress. The Emperor begged me to remain longer 
in Berlin, suggesting that I should visit the arsenals and 
inspect the fleet under Prince Henry at Stettin. I could 
scarcely decline these polite attentions, and after visiting the 
Empress I took lodging in an hotel at Berlin. Thanks to the 
glorious prestige of our Empire, matters have thus been satis- 
factorily settled, and the knowledge that my mission has been 
satisfactorily carried out will, I hope, bring comfort to Their 
Imperial Majesties in their anxiety. I beg that you will 
memorialise the Throne accordingly. — Tsai Feng.” 

The Empress Dowager was pleased to express her 
approval of the result of this mission, which in the eyes 
of the Chinese Government was undoubtedly one of those, 
diplomatic triumphs which China appears to attain most 
easily when her material resources have completely failed. 
Reading the above despatch, it is difficult to realise that 
the Prince’s mission had for its object the expiation of a 
brutal murder committed, with the full approval of the 
Chinese Government and Court, on the representative of a 
friendly nation. The opinion was commonly held by the 
Legations at Peking, that the Regent learned much from 
that penitential mission to the German capital. In 1910 

1 This is the Chinese date ; the day of the audience was the 4th September. 


his brothers were engaged on missions ostensibly intended 
to acquire knowledge for the sorely needed reorganisation 
of China’s army and navy, missions which were received 
with royal honours by almost every civilised Power; but 
there were many close observers of the changing conditions 
at Peking who saw in these missions merely a repetition 
of farces that had often been played before, and an attempt 
to gain prestige in the eyes of the Chinese people for 
the Regent’s family and the Court, rather than any definite 
intention W desire to reform the official system. 



The state of mind of the Empress Dowager during the 
flight from the .capital, and subsequently while the Court 
remained in exile at Hsi-an, was marked by that same 
quality of indecision and vacillating impulse which had 
dharacterised her actions throughout the Boxer crisis and 
the siege of Peking. This may be ascribed partly to her 
advancing age and partly to the conflicting influences of 
astrologers and fortune-tellers, to whose advice she attached 
the greatest importance in all times of peril. We have 
dealt in another place with her marked susceptibility to 
omens' and superstitious beliefs;, its effect is most notice- 
able, however, at this stage of her life, and was conspicuous 
in matters of small detail throughout the return journey 
to Peking. 

The influence of Jung Lu at Hsi-an, and that of Li 
Hung-chang at Peking, had been systematically exercised 
to induce Her Majesty to return to the capital; but until 
the Peace Protocol conditions had been definitely arranged, 
and until she had been persuaded to decree adequate 
punishment upon the Boxer leaders, the predominant feel- 
ing in her mind was evidently one of suspicion and fear, 
as was shown when she ordered the hurried flight from 
T’ai-yiian fu to Hsi-an. The influence of Li Hung-chang, 
who, from the outset, had realised the folly committed by 
the Chinese Government in approving the attack upon the 
Legations, was exercised to create in the mind of Her 
Majesty a clearer sense of the folly of that policy. At the 
height of the crisis (21st July 1900), realising that the 
foreign forces brought to bear upon China were steadily 
defeating both Boxers and Imperial troops, she appointed 
Li Hung-chang to be Viceroy of Chihli, and directed that 



he should proceed from Canton with all haste, there being 
urgent need of the services of a diplomat versed in foreign 
affairs. Her Majesty went so far as to suggest that he 
should proceed from Shanghai to Tientsin in a “Russian 
vessel which "he might borrow for the purpose.” Li 
Hung-chang’s reply, telegraphed to Yiian Shih-k’ai for 
transmission to the Throne, while outwardly respectful, 
clearly implies that Her Majesty has been to blame for 
the disasters then occurring. “I am sincerely grateful,” 
he says, “for Your Majesty’s gratifying conQdence in me, 
but cannot help recalling to mind the folly which has now 
suddenly destroyed that structure of reformed administra- 
tion which, during my twenty years’ term of office as 
Viceroy of Chihli, I was able to build up not unsuccess- 
fully. I fear it will not be possible for me to resume the 
duties of this difficult post at a time of crisis like the 
present, destitute as I am of all proper and material 
resources.” He proceeds even to criticise Her Majesty’s 
suggestion as to his journey, observing that “Russia 
possesses no vessel at Shanghai, and would certainly refuse 
to lend if she had one, in view of the state of war now 
existing.” Finally, he excuses himself for deferring his 
departure, on the ground that the British Minister had 
requested him not to leave until the foreign Ministers had 
been safely escorted from Peking to Tientsin. “I do not 
know,” says he, “if any such arrangements for safely 
escorting them can be made,” and therefore concludes by 
asking Yiian to inform the Throne that he will start north- 
wards, journeying by land, “as soon as his health permits 
it.” To this plain-spoken message from the great Viceroy, 
Tzfi Hsi replied in two lines of equally characteristic direct- 
ness : “ Li Hung-chang is to obey our earlier Decree, and 
to make all haste northwards. The grisis is serious. Let 
him make no further excuses for delay.” 

In spite of these peremptory orders, Li Hung-chang, 
W’ho had a very definite conception of his own predica- 
tpept, remained at Shanghai, ostensibly negotiating, 'but 
iff Reality waiting, to see what would be the outcome of 
thff ^ege of the Legations. He was interviewed by The:-; 


Times correspondent at Shanghai on the 23rd of July, 
and then stated that he would not proceed to his post in 
the north until convinced by clear proofs that the Empress 
Dowagef had seen the folly of her ways, and was prepared 
to adopt a conciliatory policy towards the outraged foreign 
Powers. At the end of July, when it became clear to him 
that the Court had determined on flight, he forwarded by 
special courier a very remarkable memorial, in which he 
called the Throne to task in the plainest possible terms, 
and urged an immediate change of policy. This memorial 
reached the Empress before her departure from Peking, 
and its plain-spoken advice was not without effect on the 
Empress Dowager. The Decrees issued by her in the 
name of the Emperor from Huai-lai on the 19th and 20th 
of August are the first indications given to the outside 
world that she had definitely decided on a policy of con- 
ciliation so as to render possible her eventual return to 
the capital — an event which, as she foresaw, would prob- 
ably be facilitated by the inevitable differences and jea- 
lousies already existing among the Allies. 

In the Edict of the 19th of August, after explaining that 
the whole Boxer crisis and the attack on the Legations was 
the result of differences between Christian and non-Chris- 
tian Chinese, she querulously complains that the foreign 
Powers, although doubtless well meaning in their efforts 
to "exterminate the rebels,” are behaving in a manner 
which suggests aggressive designs towards China, and 
which shows a lamentable disregard of proper procedure 
and friendliness. She naively observes that the Chinese. 
Government had been at the greatest pains to protect the 
lives and property of foreigners in Peking, in spite of 
many difficulties, and expresses much surprise at such an 
evil return being made for her invariable kindness and 
courtesy. If it were not for the unbounded capacity of 
foreign diplomats, fully proved in the past, in the matter 
of credulity where Chinese statecraft is concerned, it would 
be difficult to regard utterances like these as the work of 
an intelligent ruler. But Tzu Hsi was, as usual, justified, 
for at the very time when these Decrees were issued, Russia 


was already using very similar arguments, and making 
excuses for the Chinese government, in pursuance of her 
own policy at Peking. 

In the conclusion of the Decree above referred to. Her 
Majesty orders Jung Lu, Hsii T’ung and Ch’ung Ch’i to 
remain in Peking to act as peace negotiators, but she 
admits that, in dealing with foreigners supported by troops 
and flushed with success, it may be difficult for them at the 
outset to determine on a satisfactory line of procedure. She 
leaves it to these plenipotentiaries, therefore, to determine 
whether the best course would be to telegraph to the 
respective Foreign Offices of the countries concerned, or to 
consult with the Consuls-General at Shanghai (sic), with 
a view to obtaining friendly intervention 1 It could not 
escape so shrewd a person as Tzu Hsi that the atmosphere 
of Peking at this juncture was not likely to be favourable 
to her purposes, and that it would be easier to hoodwink 
the Foreign Offices and the Consuls at Shanghai than those 
who had just been through the siege. 

A Decree of the following day, also in the name of the 
Emperor, is couched in a very different strain — a pathetic 
admission of the Throne’s guilt, a plea for the sympathy 
of his people, and an exhortation to return to ways of 
wisdom. “Cleanse your hearts, and remove all doubt and 
suspicion from your minds, so as to assist us, the Emperor, 
in our shortcomings. We have been utterly unworthy, 
but the time is at hand when it shall be for us to prove 
that Heaven has not left us without sense of our errors and 
deep remorse.” The whole document reads with an un- 
usual ring of sincerity, accepting, in the name of the 
Emperor, full blame for all the disasters which had over- 
taken the country, while reminding the official class that 
the first cause of these calamities dates back to the time 
when they learned and adopted habits of inveterate sloth 
and luxury. From depths of contrition, the Edict admits 
fully the Throne’s responsibility: “We, the Lord of this 
Empire, have failed utterly in warding off calamities from 
our people, and we should not hesitate for one moment 
to commit suicide, in order to placate our tutelary deities 


and the gods of the soil, but we cannot forget that duty 
of filial piety and service which we owe to our sacred and 
aged mother, the Empress Dowager.’* 

The t)olicy of reform is now clearly enunciated and 
outlined as an essential condition of the future government 
of the Empire. Provincial and metropolitan officials are 
ordered to proceed at once to join the Court, in order that 
the reform programme may be speedily initiated; the 
Yangtsze Viceroys are thanked for preserving order in 
accordance with “treaty stipulations,” and Chinese converts 
to Christianity are once more assured of the Throne’s 
protection and good-will. 

These utterances of the Throne, which lost nothing in 
their presentation to the respective Powers by Prince 
Ch’ing and his colleagues, soon produced the desired effect, 
and reassured the Throne and its advisers as to their per- 
sonal safety. Accordingly, early in September, we find 
all the Viceroys and high officials of the Provinces uniting 
in a Memorial, whereby the Court is urged to return at 
once to the capital, advice which would never have been 
given had there been any question of violent measures 
being taken by the Allies against the Empress Dowager. 
At this time the question of the future location of the 
Chinese capital was being widely discussed at Court, and 
there was much conflicting advice on the subject. The 
Viceroys’ memorial was drafted by Yiian Shih-k’ai and 
forwarded by him to Liu K’un-yi, at Nanking, for trans- 
mission ; it definitely blames the Boxers and their leaders 
for the ruin which had come upon China, and rejoices at 
the thought that “the perplexities which embarrassed Your 
Majesties in the past have now given place to a clearer 
understanding of the situation.” Noting the possibility of 
the Court’s leaving T’ai-yuan fu and making “a further 
progress” westwards to Hsi-an, the memorialists deplored 
the idea and proceeded to show that such a step would 
be unwise as well as inconvenient. 

After referring to the fact that the cradle of the Dynasty 
and the tombs of its ancestors are situated near Peking, and 
that it is geographically best fitted to be the centre of 


Government, the memorialists reminded the Throne that 
the foreign Powers had promised to vacate Peking, and 
to refrain from annexing any territory if the Court will 
return. These ends, they said, would not be, attained 
should the Court persist in its intention to proceed further 
westwards, since it was now the desire of the foreign 
Ministers that China’s rulers should return to Peking. In 
the event of a permanent occupation of Peking by the 
Allies, the loss of Manchuria would be inevitable. The 
memorialists predicted partition and many other disasters, 
including financial distress, and the inipossibility of 
furnishing the Throne with supplies at Hsi-an or any other 
remote corner of the Empire. If the Court’s decision to 
proceed to Hsi-an was irrevocable, at least a Decree should 
be issued, stating that its sojourn there would be a brief 
one, and that the Court would return to Peking upon 
the complete restoration of peaceful conditions. “The 
continued existence of the Empire must depend upon the 
Throne’s decision upon this matter.’’ The Memorial con- 
cluded by imploring Their Majesties to authorise Prince 
Ch’ing to inform the foreign Ministers that the withdrawal 
of the allied armies would be followed by a definite 
announcement as to the Court’s return. 

In a further memorial from the Viceroys and Governors, 
it was stated that the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs 
had suggested to the Chinese Minister in St. Petersburg, 
that the location of the capital at Hsi-an would certainly 
prove undesirable, in view of the poverty-stricken condition 
of the province, and that Their Majesties would no doubt, 
therefore, proceed to Lan-chou fu, in Kansu. 

Before coming to a decision, however, Tzu Hsi required 
to be fully assured that the foreign Powers would not insist 
on her abdicating the supreme power as one of the condi- 
tions of peace. Convinced on that point, the hesitation 
which she had previously shown in regard to retarning to 
Peking dropped from her like a garment. It ha^ been 
freely predicted by conservative officials and the literati 
that the Old Buddha would never again wish to see her 
desecrated capital or to visit the polluted shrines of her 


ancestors. In spite of her superstitious nature, however, 
she was far too level-headed and far-seeing a woman to 
attach supreme importance to sentimental considerations, 
or to allow them to weigh heavily in the balance when the 
question of her own rulership was at stake. The hesitation 
which she had shown and the attention which she had 
paid to the advice of those who, like Chang Chih-tung, 
desired her to establish a new capital in Central China, 
were primarily a question of “face.” She would only 
return to Peking if guaranteed the full dignity and power 
of her former position. But as the peace negotiations pro- 
ceeded, and as it became clear to her that along the well- 
worn path of international jealousies she might return 
unpunished, and even welcomed, to Peking, she proceeded 
to make preparations for an early return. Fully informed 
each day by Prince Ch’ing of the progress which her 
plenipotentiaries were making towards the completion of 
the Peace Protocol, and overjoyed at its terms, she waited 
only until the condition of the roads, always more or less 
impassable after the summer rains, had sufficiently im- 
proved to permit of comfortable travelling. During the 
delay necessitated by the collecting and packing of the 
enormous quantity of “ tribute ” collected by Her Majesty 
and the Court during their stay at Hsi-an, she received 
definite confirmation of the good news that her treasure 
vaults in the capital had not been plundered by the foreign 
troops — good news which increased her anxiety to return 
as quickly as possible to superintend its removal before 
any pilfering by the eunuchs should take place. 

It was on the 24th day of the 8th Moon (20th October, 
1901) that the long procession started from Her Majesty’s 
temporary residence in the Governor’s Yamfen ; followed by 
an enormous retinue, she commenced her journey by 
sacrificing to the God of War, the guardian spirit of her 
Dynasty (and, it may be added, patron of the Boxers), at a 
small temple outside the city gates. From this onward the 
Court advanced northward by easy stages of about twenty- 
five miles a day, resting first at Ho-nan fu ; thence on to 
K’ai-ffing, where her sixty-sixth birthday was celebrated 


and where she remained for some weeks. The travelling 
lodges and other arrangements for her comfort and con- 
venience along the whole line of her route were in striking 
contrast to the squalor and privation which the Court had 
endured in the flight from Peking. 

It was during her stay at K’ai-f^ng that the Peace Pro- 
tocol was signed at Peking. It was also before her 
departure from that city, at the end of the gth Moon, that 
Li Hung-chang died. His knowledge of foreign affairs 
and remarkable ability in negotiations had been of the 
greatest service to his Imperial mistress, and there is no 
doubt that the liberal terms granted to China by the 
victorious Allies were very largely due to his efforts. Her 
Majesty, while fully appreciating his ability, had never 
treated him with marked favour, and had always refused 
to appoint him to the Grand Council, giving as her excuse 
that she could not understand his dialect. Upon his death, 
however, she conferred upon him an honour which had 
never before been granted to any Chinese subject under 
the Dynasty, namely, that of having a shrine built to his 
memory at the capital itself, in addition to those erected 
in the provinces where he had borne office. 

It was significant of her impartial and intelligent ruler- 
ship that, although she had blamed him as originally 
responsible for the Japanese War and its disastrous results, 
she had never approved of the Emperor’s hasty and vin- 
dictive action in removing him from the Viceroyalty of 
Chihli. Upon the signing of the Peace Protocol she con- 
ferred additional posthumous honours upon him, taking 
occasion at the same time, in an Imperial Decree, to con- 
gratulate and thank Prince Ch’ing, Yuan Shih-k’ai and 
others, who assisted in bringing about the settlement of 
peace terms. In particular she praised the loyalty of Jung 
Lu, ‘‘who had earnestly advised the annihilation of the 
Boxers, and who, in addition to other meritorious' searvices 
on the Grand Council, had been chiefly instrumental in 
protecting the Legations.” 

After a series of magnificent theatrical entertainments in 
honour of her birthday, the Court left K’ai-ffeng and 


continued its journey to the capital. On the eve of her de- 
parture Her Majesty took occasion sternly and publicly to 
rebuke the Manchu Prefect, Wen T’i,^ who had dared to 
advise her against returning to the capital, and to predict 
that the treacherous foreigners would certainly seize her 
sacred person — a useful piece of play to the gallery. 

At the crossing of the Yellow River, which took place in 
beautiful weather, she sacrificed to the River God, in expia- 
tion and thanksgiving. The local officials had constructed 
a magnificent barge, in the form of a dragon, upon which 
she and the ladies of the Court crossed the stream. It was 
noticed from this point onwards that wherever foreigners 
happened to be amongst the spectators of the Imperial 
cortege, she made a point of showing them particular 
attention and civility, and before her arrival in Peking she 
issued a Decree commanding that Europeans should not'be 
prevented from watching the procession upon her arrival, 
and this in spite of the fact that, in accordance with the 
usual custom, the Legations had issued notices forbidding 
their nationals to appear in the streets during the passage 
of the Imperial cortege. Everything indicated, in fact, that 
Her Majesty now desired to conciliate the European 
Powers by all possible means, and if it be borne in mind 
that it was part of her deliberate policy thus to ingratiate 
herself with foreigners as a means of furthering her own 
future policy, her actions lose nothing of interest, while 
they gain something from the humorous point of view. 

On crossing the borders of the Province of Chihli, Her 
Majesty issued a Decree, couched in almost effusive terms 
of friendliness, proclaiming that the Emperor would receive 
the foreign Ministers in audience immediately upon his 
return to the palace, and that the reception would take 
place in the central Throne Hall of the sacred enclosure. 
Chinese, reading this Decree, and ignorant of the terms of 
the Peace Protocol which provided for this particular con- 
cession to the barbarian, would naturally regard it as a 
spontaneous mark of the Imperial clemency and goodwill. 
In the same Edict Her Majesty proclaimed her intention of 

^ Wen T*i had been a censor in 1898, but was cashiered by the Emperor 
or being reactionary. Tzti H si restored him to favour after the fcup 


receiving the Ministers’ wives in person, intimating that 
she cherished most pleasant memories of past friendly inter- 
course with them. Here, again, we note fulfilment of a 
plan, deliberately conceived and formed upon the best 
classical models, “for dealing with strong and savage 

At noon on the 6th of January 1902 the Imperial party 
arrived by special train at the temporary station which had 
been erected close to the southern walls of Peking, and ad- 
joining the old terminus at Ma-chia p’u. Large pavilions, 
handsomely decorated, had been erected near the station, 
in which the Old Buddha and the Emperor were to be 
received ; they were furnished with a throne of gold lacquer, 
cloisonne altar vessels and many valuable pieces of porce- 
lain. Several hundreds of the highest metropolitan officials 
were in attendance, and a special place had been provided 
for foreigners. As the long train of over thirty carriages 
drew up at the station, the keen face of the Old Buddha 
was seen anxiously scanning her surroundings from one 
of the windows of her car. With her were the young 
Empress and the Princess Imperial, while the chief eunuch, 
Li Lien-ying, was in attendance. Recognising Her 
Majesty, every official fell upon his knees, whilst Chi Lu, 
chief officer of the Household, officiously shouted to the 
foreigners to remove their hats (which they had already 
done). The first to emerge from the train was the chief 
eunuch, who proceeded forthwith to check the long list of 
provincial tribute and treasure, mountainous loads of bag- 
gage which had travelled with the Court from the start and 
under Her Majesty’s close personal supervision. After 
the eunuch came the Emperor, evidently extremely nervous, 
who, at a sign from Her Majesty, hurried into his sedan- 
chair and was swiftly borne away, without a word or a 
sign of recognition to any of the officials in attendance. 
After his departure, the Empress came out and stood upon 
the platform at the end of her carriage. “QuiJ:e a number 
of foreigners are here, I see,” she was heard to observe. 
She saluted them in accordance with the etiquette observed 
by Chinese women — bowing f nd raising her crossed hands. 
Prince Ch’ing then advanced to greet Her Majesty, and 


with him Wang Wen-shao (who had succeeded Li Hung- 
chang as Peace Plenipotentiary). They invited Her 
Majesty to enter her chair: “There is no hurry,” she 
replied. Ghe stood for some five minutes in full view of 
the crowd, talking energetically with the bystanders, and 
looking extremely well and youthful for her age, until the 
chief eunuch returned and handed her the list of baggage 
and treasure, which she scanned with close attention and 
then returned to him with an expression of satisfaction. 

After this, at the request of the Viceroy of Chihli (Yiian 
Shih-k’ai), the foreign manager and engineer of the rail- 
way were presented to her, and received her thanks for the 
satisfactory arrangements made throughout the journey. 
She then entered her chair, a larger and finer conveyance 
than that supplied to the Emperor, and was borne away 
towards the palace; by her side ran one of her favourite 
eunuchs repeatedly calling Her Majesty’s attention to 
objects of interest. Whenever foreigners were in sight he 
would inform Her Majesty of the fact, and by one he was 
heard distinctly to say : “ Look ! Old Buddha, look quickly 
at that foreign devil,” whereupon the Empress smiled and 
bowed most affably. Passing through the southern gate 
of the Chinese city, her bearers carried her straight to the 
large enceinte of the Tartar city wall at the Ch’ien-m6n, 
where stands the shrine dedicated to the tutelary God of 
the Manchus. Here crowds of foreigners were in waiting 
on the wall. Looking down on the courtyard towards the 
shrine, they saw the Old Buddha leave her chair and fall 
upon her knees to burn incense before the image of the 
God of War, whilst several Taoist priests chanted the 
ritual. Rising she next looked up towards the foreigners, 
smiling and bowing, before she was carried away through 
the gate into the precincts of the Forbidden City. No 
sooner had she reached the inner palace (the Ning Shou 
kung) at about 2 p.m., than she commanded the eunuchs 
to commence digging up the treasure which had been 
buried there at the time of her flight; she was gratified 
beyond measure to find that it had indeed remained 


Next, with an eye not only upon her future relations 
with foreigners, but also on public opinion throughout the 
Empire, she issued a Decree conferring posthumous 
honours on the Pearl Concubine, who, as if will be 
remembered, was thrown down a well by her orders on the 
morning of the Court’s flight from the palace. In this 
Decree Her Majesty praises the virtue and admirable 
courage of the dead woman, which “led her virtuously to 
commit suicide when unable to catch up the Court on its 
departure,” unwilling as she was to witness the destruction 
and pollution of the ancestral shrines. Her trustworthy 
conduct was therefore rewarded by the granting of a post- 
humous title and by promotion of one step in rank in the 
Imperial harem. The Decree was generally regarded as 
fulfilling all reasonable requirements of atonement towards 
the deceased, for in China the dead yet live and move in 
a shadowy, but none the less real, hierarchy. Alive, a 
Pearl Concubine more or less counted for little when 
weighed against the needs of the Old Buddha’s policies; 
once dead, however, her spirit must needs be conciliated 
and compensated. 

Many Europeans who had witnessed the arrival of the 
Empress Dowager, remained at the railway station to see 
the unloading of her long baggage train, a most interesting 
and instructive sight. First were discharged the yellow 
chairs of the young Empress and the Princess Imperial, 
and four green chairs with yellow borders for the principal 
concubines ; the other ladies of the Court followed in official 
carts, two to each vehicle. There were about ninety of 
them altogether, and the arrangements for their convey- 
ance were accompanied by no little noise and confusion, the 
loquacity of some of the elder ladies being most noticeable. 
After their departure the attention of the eunuchs and 
minor officials was directed to the huge pile of the Empress 
Dowager’s personal baggage, which included her cooking 
utensils and household articles in daily use. This-operav 
tion, as well as the removal of a very large’ quantity of 
bullion (every case of which was marked with the name of 
the province or city that had sent it as tribute), was for a 


time superintended by the Grand Council. But as the 
work was. enough to last for several hours, it was not long 
before, led by Jung Lu, they entered tJieir chairs and left 
for the CSty. It was noticed that Jung Lu seemed very 
infirm, and was supported as he walked by two attendants 
of almost gigantic stature. 

Within a week or so of the Court’s return, the represen- 
tatives of the foreign Powers were duly received in audience 
under the conditions named in the Peace Protocol. It was 
observed that the Old Buddha assumed, as of old, the 
highest seat on the Throne dais, the Emperor occupying 
a lower and almost insignificant position. At the sub- 
sequent reception of the Minister’s wives, in the Pavilion 
of Tranquil Longevity, the wife of the doyen of the Diplo- 
matic Corps presented an address to “welcome Her 
Imperial Majesty back to her beautiful capital.” The 
document was most cordially, almost effusively, worded, 
and showed that the astute and carefully pre-arranged 
measures taken by the Empress to conciliate the foreign 
Powers by adroit flattery and “allurements” had already 
attained their desired effect. Already the horrors of the 
siege, the insults and the arrogance of 1900, were forgotten ; 
already the representatives of the Powers were prepared, 
as of old, to vie with each other in attempts to purchase 
Chinese favour by working each against the other. 

In receiving the address of the ladies of the Diplomatic 
Body, Her Majesty created a marked impression by the 
emotion with which she referred to her affectionate regard 
for Europeans in general and her visitors in particular. 
With every evidence of complete sincerity she explained 
that a “revolution in the palace” had compelled her to 
flee from Peking; she deeply regretted the inconvenience 
and hardships to which her good friends of the Foreign 
Legations had been so unfortunately subjected, and she 
hoped for a renewal of the old cordial relations. The 
foreign ladies left the audience highly satisfied with die 
Empress Dowager for her condescension, and with them- 
selves at being placed in a position to display such 
magnanimity. This audience was the first of many similar 


occasions, and reference to the numerous works in which 
the social side of Her Majesty’s subsequent relations with 
Europeans have be^n described will show that the Old 
Buddha had not greatly erred when she assured Jung Lu 
of the value of ancient classical methods in dealing with 
barbarians, and promised him that all would readily be 
forgiven and forgotten in the tactful exercise of condescend- 
ing courtesies. 

Life settled down then into the old grooves, and all went 
on as before in the capital of China, the garrisons of the 
Allies soon becoming a familiar feature in 'the streets to 
which gradually the traders and surviving Chinese resi- 
dents returned. Once more began the farce of foreign 
intercourse with the so-called Government of the Celestial 
Empire, and with it were immediately renewed all the 
intrigues and international jealousies which alone enable 
its rulers to maintain some sort of equilibrium in the midst 
of conflicting pressures. 

The power behind the Throne, from this time until his 
death, was undoubtedly Jung Lu, but the Foreign Lega- 
tions, still confused by memories and echoes of the siege, 
and suspicious of all information which did not conform 
to their expressed ideas of the causes of the Boxer Rising, 
failed to realise the truth, and saw in him a suspect who 
should by rights have suffered punishment with his fellow 
conspirators. But the actual facts of the case, and his 
individual actions as recorded beyond dispute in the diary 
of His Excellency Ching Shan, and unmistakably con- 
firmed by other independent witnesses, were not then 
available in the Chancelleries. Accordingly, when Jung 
Lu first paid his formal official calls upon the Foreign 
Ministers, he was anything but gratified at the reception 
accorde^ to him. In vain it was that he assured one 
member of the Diplomatic Body, with whom he had for- 
merly been on fairly good terms, that as Heaven was his 
witness he had done nothing in 1900 except his utmost- 
to defend and save the Legations; his stateihents were 
entirely disbelieved, and so greatly was he chagrined at the 
injustice done him, that he begged the Empress Dowager 


in all seriousness to allow him to retire from the Grand 
'CdnuodU But Tzd Hst, fully redlisin|^ the situation, 
as$Ui%(i him of her complete confidence, and in a highly 
laudatory decree refused his request. 

On two subsequent occasions before her death, the popu- 
lace and the foreign community in Peking were affor^d 
opportunities of witnessing the Empress Dowager’s*return 
to the city from short excursions by railway, and on each 
of these her affable, almost familiar, attitude was a subject 
of general comment. The first occasion was in the follow- 
ing spring, when she visited the Eastern Tombs, and upon 
her return, sacrificing as usual before the shrine of the 
God of War in the enceinte of the Ch’ien-mfen, she talked 
volubly with several of the ladies whom she had met at 
Court. After emerging from the Temple, she called upon 
one of the eunuchs to bring her opera glasses, with which 
she eagerly scanned the crowd looking down from the wall 
of the city, waving her handkerchief whenever she per- 
ceived a familiar face. On one occasion she even shouted 
up an enquiry asking after the health of the daughter of 
one of the Foreign Ministers. The Manchu Princes and 
Chamberlains of the Court were unable to conceal their 
indignation and wrath at such condescension on the part 
of the Empress Dowager towards those whom, in spite of 
1900, they still regarded (and regard to this day) as outer 
barbarians. So much incensed were they that they even 
urged Chi Lu to get Her Majesty to desist, and to re-enter 
her chair, an invitation to which she paid not the slightest 
attention, being evidently well pleased at the violation of 
ceremonial etiquette which she was committing. It was 
noticed that the Emperor, on the other hand, took no notice 
whatsoever of the foreigners, and seemed to be sunk in a 
deep, listless melancholy. 

The second occasion was after the Empress Dowager’s 
visit to the Western Tombs, in April 1903, four days after 
the death of her faithful friend and adviser, Jung Lu. On 
tWs occasion Her Majesty appeared to be in very low 
spirits, descending from the train slowly, and with none of 
her . wonted vivacity. She greeted Kuei Hsiang, her 

II. M, iHF. Emi‘RR.'5'> J^o\va<,i-:k and I.Aiiir.s of hf.r C.-urt (1903^ 
T>au^httM= of H. K. ^ li Konii. 

Second wile » t Ktte Kmp« . H . M. T/.u I Ki. Wife •>!' 1 1 . K. \u Keng. ex-minw' 

Eninre-^" f ■>} Kuan^-INu. ii«as Kin{)re> 


brother, who was kneelitig^ on the platfb^m to receive her, 
with one curt sentence, “You jhfve ^lled Jung Lu by 
recommending that useless doctor/* ana passed on to her 
chair without another word. It was on this .occasion, 
receiving certain foreign ladies in the travelling palace 
erected for her at Pao-ting fu, that the Old Buddha alluded 
dira^ly to the massacres of foreign missionaries which^had 
taken place in that city, “with which she had, of course, 
nothing to do.” No doubt by this time, and by force of 
repetition, Tzu Hsi had persuaded herself of her complete 
innocence; but however this may be, she undoubtedly 
won over most of the foreigners with whom she came in 
contact, by the charm and apparent sincerity of her 

Before settling down to the accustomed routine of life in 
the palace, the Empress Dowager, whose penchant for per- 
sonal explanation in Imperial Edicts seemed to be growing 
upon her, issued a Decree which gained for her renewed 
sympathy from all classes of Chinese officials. After the 
usual exhortations to her faithful subjects to co-operate 
loyally in her schemes for Reform, to put off the old bad 
ways and to persist energetically in well-doing, she gives a 
graphic description of the hardships which she and th^ 
Emperor endured during her compulsory “tour to the 
wesj,” After referring to the unforgettable shocks and 
sor^o^ys of that journey, the Edict says : — 

** I have now returned once more to my palace, and find the 
ancestral Temples reposing as of old in dignified and unbroken 
serenity. Beneath th€ deep awe which overcomes me in the 
pte^nce of my glorious ancestors my soul feels an added 
height of grief and remorse, and I only hope that by Heaven’s 
continued favour I may yet live to accomplish some meri- 
torious work.” 



The crisis of 1900, all the horror of that abomination of 
desolation in her capital and the hardships of her wander* 
ing in the wilderness, had brought home to the Empress 
the inherent weakness of her country and the stern neces- 
sity for remedial measures. Already, before the issue of 
the penitential Decree, quoted in an earlier chapter, she 
had announced to the world, with characteristic decision, 
her intention to adopt new measures and to break with 
those hoary traditions of the past which, as she had 
learned, were the first cause of the rottenness of the State. 
Her subsequent policy became in fact (though she was 
careful never to admit it) a justification of those very 
measures which the Emperor had so enthusiastically 
inaugurated in 1898, but her methods differed from his 
in that she omitted no precaution for conciliating the con- 
flicting interests about the Throne and for disarming the 
opposition of the intransigeants of the provinces. 

The first intimation of Her Majesty’s conversion to new 
ideals of Government was given to the world in an Edict 
issued at Hsi-an on the 28th January 1901, in the name of 
the Emperor. This document, drafted with the assistance 
of Jung Lu, is a remarkable example of Tzfl Hsi’s mascu- 
line intelligence and statecraft, though somewhat marred 
by those long-winded repetitions in which Chinese Edicts 
abound. It was received with enthusiastic delight by the 
literati throughout the Empire, even in Canton and the 
southern provinces, where, at the moment, Her Majesty 
was not personally popular. The vernacular Press claimed 
it as the most striking Edict in Chinese history. It com- 
bined an eloquent appeal to the people to accept the 
principle of reform together with a masterful justification 




of China and her people the outside world. It 

was most skilfully worded so as to placate all parties in 
the State and thus to enhance the reputation of the Old 
Buddha. The “Young China” party was particularly 
enthusiastic, for by this Decree Her Majesty definitely 
abandoned the principle of absolute autocracy which had 
been for centuries the corner-stone of the Chinese system 
of government. It was realised that so complete a de- 
parture from the traditions of the Manchu Dynasty, of the 
Imperial Clan and of all her previous convictions, could 
not have been attained but for the bitter lessons of 1900, 
and, admiration was therefore the more keen for the skill 
and courage with which, on the verge of old age, she 
resumed the burden of government in her ravaged capital. 
It was the ruling passion bravely asserted, and the sym- 
jjathy of the nation could hardly be withheld from a ruler 
who thus bore her share in the national humiliation, who 
so frankly accepted responsibility for past errors and 
promised new and better methods for the future. 

It was, of course, inevitable, in the light of all experi- 
ence, that many of her subjects, as well as most foreigners, 
should doubt her sincerity, and should regard this Edict, 
like many others, as a case of “ when the devil was sick.” 
But gradually, after the return of the Court, as it became 
clear to her immediate retainers and high officials that this 
self-confident woman was reailly in earnest, and as she 
continued steadily to impress her new policy upon the 
reluctant Clansmen, her popularity with the people at large, 
and especially in the south (where it had been much 
damaged by her fierce suppression of the ■ Cantonese 
reformers of 1898), was gradually restored. From this 
time forward to the end of her life, whatever may have 
been the good or bad faith of her advisers and chief 
officials, every act of her career is stamped with unmis- 
takable signs of her sincerity in the cause of reform,* borne 
out by her recorded words and deeds. 

From the Boxer movement she had learned at a bitter 
cost the lesson she was now putting into practice, but for 
all that she remained to the* end faithful in ho: affectip^ 

26 o china under the EMPRESS DOWAGER 

for the memory of the Boxer leaders ; to the last she never 
failed to praise their loyalty to her person and the patriotic 
bravery of their attempt to expel the foreigner. But she 
had been compelled to learn in the hard school of experi- 
ence the utter hopelessness of that attempt, and she was 
forced to the conclusion that, for the future, and until 
China should be strong enough, all anti-foreign proceed- 
ings must be suppressed. 

Unflinchingly, therefore, she announced to her people a 
change of front unparalleled in the history of China. 
Certain it is (as was fully proved in the case of the Emperor 
in 1898) that no other ruler of the Dynasty could have pro- 
claimed such drastic changes without causing serious 
dissensions and possibly civil war. But so masterly were 
her methods of dealing with the necessities of the situation, 
and so forcibly did the style and arguments of her Decrees 
appeal to the literati, that they carried very general con- 
viction. Even the most bigoted Confucianists were won 
by her subtle suggestions as to what would have been the 
attitude of the Sage himself if confronted by such problems 
as the nation had now to face. 

In the Decree recording her conversion the Emperor was 
made to renou^nce and condemn the Reformers of 1898 and 
all their work. This, however sincerely convinced Her 
Majesty might be of the necessity for remedial measures, 
was only natural. For it was never one of the weaknesses 
of this masterful woman to make direct confession of error 
for the benefit of her own immediate entourage; not thus 
is prestige maintained in the atmosphere of an Oriental 
Court* She was now prepared to adopt many of the 
reforms which K’ang Yu-wei and his friends had advocated, 
but for all-important purposes of “ face ” it must be made 
quite clear that, in her hands, they were something radically 
different and superior. In promulgating her new opinions 
she could not afford to say anything which might be con- 
strued as direct justification of that reform movement which 
she herself had so ruthlessly suppressed. And so the 
“stupid people” must clearly understand that fier present 
programme was by no means “revolutionary” like that of 
K’ang Yu-wei and his “fellow-conspirators.” Neyerthe- 


less, her proposals for reform went as far as theirs, and, 
in some cases, even further, the only real difference being 
that in this case she, the Old Buddha, was a prime mover, 
where before she had been an opponent. 

Looking back on the six years of her life and rule which 
followed the return from exile, there can be but little doubt 
of the sincerity of her conversion to reform, although there 
is no reason to believe that her sentiments towards 
foreigners had undergone any change for the better. The 
lesson which had been brought home to her with crushing 
force in the rise and fall of the Boxer movement and in 
the capture of Peking, was that national inefficiency means 
national extinction, a lesson which not all the statesmen 
of western lands have fully learned. She had realised that 
the material forces of the western world were not to be 
met and overthrown by quotations from the classics, and 
that, if China was to continue to exist as an independent 
State she must follow the example of Japan and put her 
house in order with equipment and defences adapted from 
western models. And with Tzii Hsi to realise was to act, 
a quality which, more than all others, distinguished her 
from the ruck of her Manchu kinsmen and officials, sunk 
in their lethargic fatalism and helplessness. 

The situation which confronted her at the outset was 
anything but simple. Apart from the time-honoured 
privileges of the Imperial clans, whose arrogant ignorance 
she had come to appreciate at its proper value, she must 
needs be cautious in handling the susceptibilities of the 
provincial gentry and literati, the backbone of China's 
collective intelligence. At the same time, as* far as the 
foreign Powers were concerned, she must be careful to 
preserve to the full that dignity on which her prestige with 
her own people depended, that Vempire c*est max 
attitude which had been rudely shaken by the events of 
1900. Not as the chastened penitent would she appear in 
their eyes, but as the innocent and injured victim of cir-^ 
cumstances beyond her control. There were, in fact^ 
several distinct rfttes to be played, and none of them were 

The Edict issued from Hsi-an in February 1901 had 


been warmly applauded by scholars throughout the Empire 
as a literary feat of the first order, but most of the pro- 
vincial officials (justified by all tradition and experience) 
regarded \t as merely a classical obiter dictum^ and pro- 
ceeded, therefore, in their old way, certain in their minds 
that the Old Buddha was only amusing herself, as was 
her wont, by throwing dust in the eyes of the barbarian, 
and that she would not be displeased if her lieutenants were 
to proceed slowly in carrying them into effect. Unto the 
end, even in the face of the earnest exhortations of her 
valedictory Decree, there were many provincial officials 
who, for reasons of personal .prejudice and self-interest, 
professed to believe that the Old Buddha had been merely 
playing a part, but we can find nothing in her official or 
private record during these six years to justify that belief. 
Just before her return to Peking she issued an Edict in 
which her own convictions were very clearly indicated. 

“ Ever since my sudden departure from^ the capital a year 
ago,” she declared, “ I have not ceased for a moment to brood 
over the causes of our national misfortunes and to feel deep 
remorse. Now, thanks to the protection of our tutelary deities, 

I am about to return to the capital. Whenever I think of the 
reasons for our undoing and the causes of our collective weak- 
ness I sincerely deplore the fact that I have not long ago 
introduced the necessary reforms, but I am now fully deter- 
mined to put in force all possible measures for the reform of the 
State. Abandoning our former prejudices, we must proceed 
to adopt the best European methods of government. I am 
firmly determined to work henceforward on practical lines, so 
as to deliver the Empire from its present rotten state. Some 
of the necessary measures will naturally require longer periods 
of preparation than others, but after my return to Peking they 
must one and all gradually be introduced. 

“In view of the urgent importance of this matter, Jung Lu 
and his colleagues have urged me to make a clear statement 
of my intentions and to declare without possibility of hesitation 
or doubt the irrevocable decision of the Throne, so that every 
official in the land may be stimulated to sincere and unremitting 
co-operation. For this reason I issue the^ present Decree 
solemnly recording my opinion that the condition of the Empire 
permits of no further evasion or delay in the matter of reform, 
herein lies our only hope for the future. Myself and the 
Emperor, in the interests of all that we hold dear, have no 


alternative but to face, and steadily to pursue, this new policy ; 
we piust make up our minds what are the things to strive for, 
and employ the right men to help us to attain them. We are, 
as mother and son, of one mind, endeavouring only^ to restore 
our fallen fortunes. You, our people, can best serve by united 
efforts to this end.” 

Tzu Hsi had not only realised the vast superiority 
of the material forces of the western world, but she had 
also been convinced of the immense intellectual and 
political forces which education and increased means of 
communication were steadily creating amongst her own 
subjects, forces with which, as she perceived, the effete 
and ignorant Manchus would have to reckon sooner or 
later. It is quite plain from her Edicts on this delicate 
subject that she realised clearly the dangers which threat- 
ened the Manchu rule. She saw that their class privileges, 
the right to tribute, and all the other benefits of sovereignty 
which the founders of the Dynasty had won by force of 
arms and opportunity, had now become an anachronism, 
and must in the near future involve the Manchus them- 
selves in serious dangers and difficulties, unless, by fusion, 
means could be found to avert them. Among the rules 
laid down by the founders of the Dynasty for the mainten- 
ance of the pure Manchu stock was that which forbade 
intermarriage with Chinese. This law, though frequently 
violated in the garrisons of the south, had remained 
generally effective within the metropolitan province, where 
it had served its purpose of maintaining the ruling class 
and its caste. But the Empress had now come to under- 
stand that if China was to be preserved as. a sovereign 
State, it must be rather by means of Chinese energy and 
intelligence grafted on to the Manchu stock, than by the 
latter’s separate initiative. In January 1902, immediately 
after her return to Peking, she gave effect tq her con- 
victions on this subject in a remarkable Decree whereby 
she recommended that, for the future, Manchus atnd 
Chinese should intermarry. “At the time of the founding 
of our Dynasty,” she says, “the customs and languages of 
the two races were greatly -different, and this was in itself 


reason sufRcient for prohibiting intermarriage. But at 
the present day, little or no difference exists between them, 
and the time has come, therefore, to relax this law for the 
benefit of the Empire as a whole, and in accordance with 
the wishes of our people.” In the same Edict Her Majesty 
deprecated the Chinese custom, which the Manchus had 
never adopted, of foot-binding, and urged that the educated 
classes should unite to oppose a custom so injurious to health 
and inhuman in practice. There was, however, to be no 
compulsion in, this matter. In one respect only did she 
desire to adhere to the exclusive Manchu traditions, 
namely, as regards the selection of secondary wives for 
the Imperial harem, who must continue to be chosen ex- 
clusively from Manchu families; she did not desire “to 
incur any risk of confusion or dissension in the Palace, nor 
to fall into the error committed by the Ming Dynasty, in 
the indiscriminate selection of concubines, a matter affect- 
ing the direct and legitimate succession to the Throne.” 
Nor would she expose her kinsmen to the risk of conspiracy 
against the Dynasty which would certainly occur if the 
daughters of the great Chinese houses were admitted to 
the palace. The law had been laid down once and for 
all by Nurhachi, and it was binding on every occupant of 
the Dragon Throne, namely, “no Manchu eunuchs, no 
Chinese concubines.” 

Her next step, in a decree which frankly deplored the 
hopeless ignorance of her kinsmen, was to authorise the 
Imperial clansmen and nobles to send their sons to be 
educated abroad, so that perchance the lump of their ineffi- 
ciency might yet be leavened. Eligible youths, between 
the ages of fifteen and twenty-five, and of good physique, 
were to be selected and their expenses would be defrayed 
by the Government. 

This much for the Manchus; but in regard to the whole 
question of education, which she declared to be the very 
root of all China’s difficulties, she perceived, after pro- 
longed consultations with Yuan Shih-k’ai and Chang Chih- 
tung, that so long as the classical system continued, with 
its strong hold of tradition upon the masses, it must con- 


stitute the chief obstacle to any effective reform of the 
body politic. After much careful deliberation she decided 
that unless the whole system of classical examinations were 
abolished, root and branch, no tinkering with * western 
learning could be of any practical use. The ancient system 
of arguing in a circle, which for over two centuries had 
characterised the ideal essay and hypnotised the ideal 
official, must undoubtedly triumph over all other educa- 
tional methods, so long as it remained part of the official 
curriculum. Her Majesty took pains to point out by Edict 
that colleges had undoubtedly existed in the days of that 
model ruler, the Regent Duke Chou, more than three 
thousand years ago, on lines not greatly different from 
those of the foreign Universities of the present day; she 
proved also that the classical system was, so to speak, 
quite a recent innovation, having been introduced for the 
first time under the Ming Dynasty, about a.d. 1390. 
Eventually, in 1904, upon the advice of Yiian Shih-k’ai, 
approved by Chang Chih-tung, a Decree was issued 
finally abolishing the old system of examinations and 
making graduation at one of the modern colleges the only 
recognised path to official employment. At the same time, 
realising that the training of students in Japan, which had 
been proceeding on a very large scale, had produced a body 
of revolutionary scholars most undesirable in the eyes of 
the Government, she gave orders that arrangements should 
be made for sending more students in future to Europe 
and America. 

This epoch-making announcement was followed by 
several other important Decrees, notably that which 
ordered the complete abolition of the opium traffic within 
a period of ten years, a Decree, which, embodying a 
sincere and powerful consensus of public opinion, has pro- 
duced most unexpected results, marvellously creditable to 
the moral sense and recuperative energies of the Clvnese 
race. The contrast is most striking between the widespread- 
reform effected under this Edict, and the almost complete 
failure of those which set forth to reform the Metropolitan 
administration ; these, thanks to the steady passive resist- 


ance of the mandarin in possession, resulted merely in 
perpetuating the old abuses under new names. The one 
new Ministry created at that time, and saluted by 
foreigners as a sign of genuine progress, was that of Posts 
and Communications (Yu-Ch’uan pu), which was a by- 
word for corrupt practices since its establishment, and a 
laughing-stock among the Chinese themselves for in^- 
ciency and extravagance. 

After dealing with education, the Old Buddha turned 
her attention .to a question which had frequently figured in 
recent memorials of progressive officials, namely, the 
abolition of torture and other abuses prevalent in the so- 
called judicial system of the Empire. She realised that if 
China were ever to obtain the consent of the western 
Powers to the abolition of the foreigner’s rights of extrar 
territoriality, she must devise and enforce civil and criminal 
codes similar to those of civilised countries. Her Edict on 
this subject, though in form excellent, seems to lack some- 
thing of the conviction which marks her other Decrees of 
this period; it is very different, for instance, from those 
dealing with the abolition of opium and the reform of 
education. Its principles were obviously contrary to all 
her previous ideas and practice, and it is only fair to say 
that its result, in spite of much drafting of codes, has been 
little or none, as far as the barbarous practices of the 
provincial Yamfens are concerned. She decreed that, pend- 
ing the introduction of the criminal code, decapitation 
should be the extreme penalty of the law ; dismemberment 
and mutilation were to be abolished as barbarous ; brand- 
ing, flogging, and the vicarious punishment of relatives 
were to cease. These savage penalties, she observed, were 
originally introduced into China under the Ming Dynasty, 
and had only been adopted by the Manchus, with other 
Chinese customs, against their own more merciful 

Finally, in deference to the unmistakable and growing 
tendencies of public opinion in the south, Tzfi Hsi took the 
first steps towards the introduction of constitutional govern- 
ment by sending an Imperial Commission (under Duke 


Tsai Tse) to study the various Systems in force in foreign 
countries, and their results. The return of this Mission 
was followed in the autumn of 1906 by the issue of the 
famous Decree in which she definitely announced her 
intention to grant a constitution, which should come into 
effect sooner or later, according to circumstances and the 
amount of energy or procrastination displayed by the 
officials and people in preparing themselves for the change. 
As an example of subtle argument calculated to appeal to 
the Chinese mind, the document is a masterpiece in its 
way. It says : — 

? ‘‘Ever since the foundation of the Dynasty one wise sove- 
reign after another has handed down sage counsels to posterity ; 
it has always been their guiding principle that methods of 
Government should be modified and adapted to meet the 
exigences of the moment and changing conditions. China's 
great and increasing danger to-day is largely due to her unwise 
adherence to antiquated methods; if we do not amend our 
educational and political systems, we shall be violating the 
spirit which animated our Imperial ancestors, and shall dis- 
appoint the best hopes of our people. Our Imperial Commis- 
sioners have reported to us that the prosperity and power of 
foreign nations are largely due to principles of constitutional 
government based on the will of the people, which assures 
bonds of union and sympathy between the Sovereign and his 
subjects. It is therefore our duty to consider by what means 
such a Constitution may be granted as shall retain the sovereign 
power in the hands of the Throne, and at the same time give 
effect to the wishes of the people in matters of administration. 
Our State being at present unprepared, and our people 
uneducated, any undue haste is inadvisable, and would lead to 
no practical results. We must first reform the official system, 
following this by the introduction of new laws, new methods 
of education, finance and military organisations, together with 
a police system, so that officials and people may come to realise 
what executive government means as a foundation and prepar- 
ation for the granting of a Constitution." 

It was not to be expected that even Tzii Hsi could irame 
so radical and comprehensive a programme of change with*- 
out incurring the strongest opposition and criticism of 
those to whom the established order meant loaves and 
fishes : at Peking, however, .Owing to the absence of an 



outspoken Press, the opp^osition ran beneath the surface, 
exercised in the time-honoured form of dogged adherence 
to the ancient methods by the officials and bureaucrats on 
whose goodwill all reform ultimately depends. Against 
anyone less masterful and less popular than Tzu Hsi the 
Clansmen would undoubtedly have concerted other and 
more forcible measures, but they knew their Old Buddha 
and went in wholesome fear of her wrath. It was only her 
exceptional position and authority that enabled her to 
introduce the machinery for the establishment of constitu- 
tional government, based on the Japanese model, and there 
is reason to believe that even at the time of her death many 
conservative Manchus did not regard that measure seriously. 

But despite the promise of constitutj||nal government, 
public opinion in the south, never restrained in its utter- 
ances by the free-lances of the vernacular Press of Hong- 
kong and Shanghai, was outspoken in condemnation of 
Her Majesty’s new policy, criticising her policy in general 
on the ground of her undignified truckling to Europeans. 
Lacking alike her masculine intelligence and courageous 
recognition of hard facts, making no allowance for the 
difficulties with which she was encompassed, and animated 
in many instances by a very real hatred of the Manchu 
rule, they attacked her in unmeasured terms of abuse; 
while the foreign Press of the Treaty Ports, naturally sus- 
picious of her motives and mindful of her share in the 
anti-foreign rising, was also generally unsympathetic, if 
not hostile. In both cases knowledge of the woman’s 
virility and vitality was lacking. Her critics failed to 
realise that, like most mortals, the Empress was a mixture 
of good and bad, of wisdom and error, largely swayed by 
circumstances and the human equations around her, as 
well as by an essentially feminine quality of mutability; 
but withal, and above all, a born leader of men and a 
politician of the very first order. 

The following extracts from articles published in the 
Shanghai Press at that time, throw an instructive light on 
the spirit of Young China (like that of the Babu of India) 
as displayed in its anti-Manchu proclivities and bigoted 


chauvinism* One critic, taking, for his text the entertain- 
ments given by Her Majesty to the Foreign Legations, 
wrote : — 

There can be no objection to giving a banquet td anyone 
who is likely to be grateful and show some return for hos- 
pitality, but what possible good purpose can be served by 
feasting those who treat you with suspicion? We Chinese arc 
wont to despise our ignorant rustics when they display servility 
to foreigners, but what is to be said when one in the exalted 
position of the Empress Dowager demeans herself by being 
on terms of affectionate intimacy with the wives of Foreign 
Ministers, and even with women belonging to the commercial 
and lower classes? Nowadays foreign food is served at the 
palace in a dining-room decked out in European style : the 
guests at these entertainments thank their Imperial hostess on 
taking leave, and the very next day their Legations will 
furiously rage against China at our Foreign Office. Therefore, 
as for moderating their barbarous ways, her food and her 
wines are simply wasted. As a matter of fact, these guests 
of hers do not scruple to compare her banquets of to-day with 
the melons and vegetables which she sent to the Legations 
during the siege, a comparison by no means flattering to Her 
Majesty. The thing is becoming a scandal. When Russia 
poured out entertainments in honour of Li Hung-chang she ^ot 
something for her money ; can it be that Her Majesty is looking 
to similar results in the present case for herself? ” 

Nevertheless, unheeding of criticism and strong in the 
wisdom of her own convictions, Tzu Hsi continued steadily 
on the lines which she had laid down as necessary for the 
future safety of the Empire. It was not to be expected that 
even her strong personality could overcome in a day the 
entrenched forces of native prejudice and conservatism 
within and without the palace. At the time of her death 
many of the chief strongholds of the ancient system (e. g. 
the power of the eunuchs and the organised corruption of 
officials) remained practically uncriticised and untouched; 
but at her passing she had marked out a rough course by 
which, if faithfully followed, the ship of State might yet 
be safely steered through the rocks and shallows of the 
dangerous seas ahead. 


HER majesty’s LAST DAYS 

The death of Jung Lu in April 1903 was a great grief to 
the Empress Dowager. In the course of her long life there 
was hardly any crisis or important event of her reign 
wherein she had not been greatly assisted by this devoted 
follower. Upon hearing of his death she issued a Decree 
from the Travelling Palace at Pao-ting fu, praising the 
patriotism and clear-sighted intelligence of the deceased, 
who, since the beginning of his career as an honorary 
licentiate had risen to be Controller of the Imperial House- 
hold, Tartar General and Viceroy, in all of which capacities 
he had rendered signal service. At the time of his death 
he had attained to the highest honours open to a subject 
in China, namely, the position of Grand Secretary and 
Grand Councillor. In this Decree Her Majesty laid par- 
ticular stress on his endeavours to promote a good under- 
standing with the foreign Powers in 1900. Further, in 
token of her affectionate regard, she bestowed upon him 
a coverlet with charms worked thereon from the Dharani 
Sutra in Sanscrit and Thibetan, to be used as a pall for 
his burial, and she commanded Prince Kung to proceed 
to the residence of the deceased, with ten officers of the 
Imperial Guard, to perform a sacrifice on her behalf to 
the soul of the departed statesman. She granted him the 
posthumous designation of “learned and loyal,” together 
with the highest hereditary rank open to one who had not 
been a victorious military commander or a member of the 
Imperial Clan. His ancestral tablet was given a place at 
the Shrine of Good and Virtuous Officials, and three thou- 
sand taels (;{^35o) were issued from the privy purse towards 
his funeral expenses. 



In the summer of 1908 Tzii Hsi’s generally robust health 
showed signs of failing, a fact which is recorded in her 
valedictory . Decree, and one of no small importance in 
considering the coincident fact of the illness of the Em- 
peror. Of the causes and manner of the latter’s death, 
nothing will ever be definitely known ; they lie buried with 
many another secret of the Forbidden City, in the hearts 
of Li Lien-ying and his immediate satellites. Even among 
the higher officials, Manchu and Chinese, of the capital, 
opinions differ, and many conflicting theories are current 
to account for the remarkable coincidence of the death of 
Tzii Hsi and her unhappy nephew on successive days. 
For those who seek it there is no lack of circumstantial 
evidence to justify the conclusion that the long-threatened 
Emperor was “ removed ” by the reactionaries, headed by 
the chief eunuch, who had only too good cause to fear his 
unfettered authority on the Throne. At the same time it 
is conceivably possible that many of the plots and pro- 
ceedings of the Summer Palace at that time might have 
been unknown to Tzu Hsi, and that she was purposely kept 
in ignorance by those who foresaw the possibility of her 
early death and took their precautions accordingly, after 
the Oriental manner. Indeed, in the light of much trust- 
worthy evidence of eye-witnesses, this seems a rational 
explanation of events to which any solution by theories of 
coincidence is evidently difficult. Most of the following 
account of Her Majesty’s last days is derived from the 
statements of two high officials, one Manchu and the other 
Chinese, who were at that time on duty with the Court. 
Their testimony and their conclusions coincide, on the 
whole, with those of the best-informed and most reliable 
Chinese newspapers, whose news from the capital is also 
generally from official sources. We accept them, naturally, 
wiA all reserve, yet with an inclination to give the Empress 
Dowager, on this occasion, the benefit of their good 
opinions and our own doubts. The simultaneous deaths 
may possibly have been due to natural causes, but it is to 
be observed by the most sympathetic critic, that the 
account given by Her Majesty’s loyal servants of her 


behaviour immediately after the Emperor’s death, is by 
no means suggestive of sorrow, but rather of relief. 

It was in the previous autumn that the Emperor became 
very illf so much so that he was gradually compelled during 
the last year of his life to desist from performance of the 
usual sacrifices, which entail no small expenditure of 
physical energy through their genuflections and continual 
prostrations. The impression gradually gained ground 
that His Majesty was not likely to live much longer, and 
it was remarked, and remembered as a significant fact, that 
the Old Buddha had some time before given orders for the 
engagement of special wet-nurses for the infant son of 
Prince Ch’un, born in February 1906. It was understood 
that these orders implied the selection of this infant Prince 
to succeed Kuang-Hsii ; but although many attempts were 
made to induce her to declare herself on this subject, she 
declined to do so on the ground that her previous experi- 
ence had been unlucky, that her selections had been the 
cause of much misunderstanding, and that, moreover, it 
was a house-law of the Dynasty that the heir to the throne 
could only be lawfully selected when the sovereign was 
in extremis f a rule which she had completely disregarded 
in the nomination of Prince Tuan’s son in 1900.^ 

In this connection, there is every reason to believe that 
Tzfl Hsi’s superstitious nature, and the memory of the 
prophecies of woe uttered by the Censor Wu K’o-tu at 
the time of his protesting suicide, had undoubtedly led 
her to regret the violation of the sacred laws of succession 
which she committed in selecting Kuang-Hsii for the 
Throne. On more than one occasion in recent years she 
had endeavoured to propitiate the shade of the departed 
Censor, and public opinion, by conferring upon him post- 
humous honours. Towards the end of her reign, after 
the humiliations inflicted on China in successive wars by 
France, Japan and the coalition of the Allies, she was 
frequently heard to express remorse at having been led 
into courses of error which had brought down upon her 

^ This house-law was made by the Emperor Ch'ien Lung to prevent his 
Court officials from intriguing for the favour of the Heir Apparent. 


the wrath of Heaven. In 1888, when the Temple of Heaven 
was struck by lightning, and again, when the chief gate of 
the Forbidden City took fire and was destroyed, she inter- 
preted these events as marks of the Supreme Being's dis- 
approval of her actions. The Emperor's subsequent con- 
spiracy with K'ang Yu-wei and his associates of 1898, 
became in her eyes another judgment and visitation of 
Heaven. It may therefore reasonably be assumed that 
when the Boxer Princes persuaded her of the efficacy of 
their magic arts and of their ability to drive the foreigner 
into the sea, she seized upon the hope thus offered as a 
means of regaining the favour of the gods and atoning for 
past errors. Although in selecting the son of Prince Tuan 
to be heir to her son, the Emperor T'ung-Chih (thus pass- 
ing over Kuang-Hsii), she had once more violated the 
house-laws of the Dynasty, there is no doubt that she took 
her risks in the certain hope that further prestige must 
accrue to her house and to herself, by the fact that the boy 
Emperor's father’s, next to herself in power, would be 
hailed by the Chinese people as the Heaven-sent deliverer, 
the conqueror of the hated barbarian, and the saviour of 
his country. In other words, recognising that the mistakes 
she had committed had seriously injured her in the eyes 
of the nation, she determined to endeavour to retrieve 
them by one last desperate throw. Later, after the return 
from exile, when she realised that this heroic venture had 
been as misguided in its inception as any of her former 
misdeeds, she showed her splendid courage and resource 
by a swift volte-face in the adoption of those very reform 
measures which she had formerly opposed, and by annul- 
ling the appointment of Prince Tuan's son as Heir to the 
Throne. She thus cut herself adrift from alTconnection 
with the Boxer leaders as completely and unhesitatingly 
as she wiped out from the annals of her reign all reference 
to the Edicts which she had issued in their favour. The 
result brought about by this change of policy, and .of the 
succession of Prince Ch’un's infant son to the Throne, 
was to establish more firmly than ever that junior branch 
of the Imperial family. It became generally accepted at 


Court, that the first Prince Ch’un, the father of Kuang- 
Hsu and grandfather of the present sovereign, would 
eventually be canonised with the title of “Ti ” or Emperor, 
which would practically make him, by posthumous right, 
the founder of a new dynastic branch. The problem of 
the direct succession, even in Chinese eyes, was never 
simple, and it was generally supposed (e. g. by The Times 
correspondent at Peking in October 1908) that the Empress 
Dowager would nominate Prince P’u Lun to succeed 
Kuang-Hsii, thus restoring the succession to the senior 
branch of the. family. This would certainly have appealed 
to orthodox and literary officials throughout the Empire, 
and, as a means of appeasing the distressed ghost of the 
protesting Censor, would have been more effective than 
the course she actually adopted. Doctor Morrison, dis- 
cussing this question of the succession before the event, 
expressed the general opinion that the appointment of 
another infant to succeed the Emperor Kuang-Hsii (in- 
volving another long Regency) would be fraught with 
great danger to the Dynasty. It was evident to all that 
the situation, lacking that strong hand which for half a 
century had held together the chaotic fabric of China’s 
Government, suffered from the fact that for many years 
to come the supreme authority seemed destined to remain 
in the hands of a Regent, and a Regent whose position 
was ab initio undermined by the powerful influences 
brought to bear by the senior branch of the Imperial Clan. 
Tad Hsi was fully aware of the position which would be 
created, or rather prolonged, by the selection of Prince 
Ch’un’s son, and for this reason, no doubt, the selection of 
Kuang-Hsii ’s successor was postponed until the very day 
of her death. When, at last, confronted by the imperative 
necessity for action, she had to make up her mind, there 
were two things that chiefly weighed with her. These 
were, firstly, the promise that she had made to Jung Lu, 
and, secondly, her unconcealed dislike for Prince Ch’ing, 
who had made himself the chief spokesman for the claims 
of Prince P’u Lun. It was also only natural that she 
should wish to leave to her favourite niece (the consort of 


Kuang-Hsii) the title and power of Empress Dowager, if 
only in reward for years of faithful and loyal service to 
herself. In* other words, the claims of the human equation 
and her own inclinations outweighed, unto the ehd, the 
claims of orthodox tradition and the qualms of her 

Throughout the winter of 1907 and the following spring, 
the Empress enjoyed her usual vigorous health. In April 
she went, as usual, to the Summer Palace, where she 
remained all through the hot season. With the heat, 
however, came a recurrence of her dysenteric trouble and 
in August she had a slight stroke of paralysis, as the result 
of which her face, hitherto remarkably youthful for a 
woman of seventy, took on a drawn and tired appearance. 
In other respects her health seemed fairly good ; certainly 
her vigour of speech remained unimpaired, and she con- 
tinued to devote unremitting attention to affairs of State. 
She was wont frequently to declare her ambition of attain- 
ing to the same age as Queen Victoria, a ruler for whom 
she professed the greatest admiration ; she would say that 
she could trace, in the features of the English Queen, lines 
of longevity similar to those in her own. The Taoist 
Abbot, Kao, whom she used to receive in frequent 
audiences, and who possessed considerable influence over 
her, had prophesied that she would live longer than any 
former Empress of the Dynasty; but his prophecy was 
not fulfilled, for she died younger than three of her 

In the summer of 1908 the Old Buddha took a keen 
interest in the impending visit of the Dalai Lama, which 
had been arranged for the autumn. The chief eunuch, Li, 
begged her to cancel this visitation on the ground that it 
was notoriously unlucky for the “Living Buddha" and 
the Son of Heaven to be resident in one city at the same 
time. Either the priest or the sovereign would surely die, 
he said.^ To this Tzu Hsi replied that she had long since 

^ The chief eunuch in reality objected to the Buddhist pontiff on his 
own account, for the bama’s exactions from the superstitious would 
naturally diminish his own opportunities. 


decided in her mind that the Emperor’s illness was incur- 
able* and she saw no reason, therefore, to stop the coming 
of the Dalai Lama. Nevertheless, in July, she summoned 
certain Chinese physicians, educated abroad, to attend His 
Majesty, who had become greatly emaciated and very 
weak. They reported that he was suffering from Bright’s 
disease. Their examination of the august patient and their 
diagnosis of his symptoms were necessarily perfunctory, 
inasmuch as etiquette prevented the application of the 
proper tests, but they professed to have verified the fact 
that the action of the heart was very weak. On the other 
hand, writers in the newspapers of the south did not 
hesitate to assert that the whole medical performance was 
a farce and that the death of the Emperor would un- 
doubtedly take place so soon as the powers about the 
Throne had made up their minds that the Empress 
Dowager was not likely to live much longer. 

According to the general consensus of opinion in the 
capital, the relations between the Old Buddha and His 
Majesty were not unfriendly at this period. It was said 
that shortly before his illness became acute the Empress 
Dowager had encouraged him to take a more active part 
in affairs of State, and to select candidates for certain high 
offices : she certainly renewed the practice of showing him 
Decrees for the formality of his concurrence. When the 
reformer Wang Chao returned from flight, and gave him- 
self up to the police, she, who had vowed the death of this 
man in 1898, invited His Majesty to decide what punish- 
ment should now be inflicted upon him. The Emperor, 
after long reflection, suggested that his life be spared. 
“By all means,” replied the Old Buddha, “I had fully 
intended to forgive him, but desired to hear your opinion. 
Full well I know your sincere hatred of fellows like K’ang 
Yu-wei and his asociates, and I was afraid, therefore, that 
you might insist on the immediate decapitation of Wang 
Chao.” She evidently believed that she had completely 
eradicated from His Majesty’s mind all opposition to her 

As the Emperor’s health grew worse, the eunuchs were 


instructed not to keep him waiting when calling upon the 
Empress Dowager and he was also excused at the meet- 
ings of the Grand Council from awaiting her arrival and 
departure on his knees. A Manchu holding a high position 
at Court testifies to the truth of the following incident. 
One morning, after perusal of a Censor's Memorial, which 
contained several inaccurate statements, His Majesty 
observed to the Grand Council : “ How little of truth there 
is in common rumour. For instance, I know myself to be 
really ill, yet here it is denied that there is^anything the 
matter with me.” The Empress Dowager here broke in : 
“Who has dared to utter such falsehoods? If caught, he 
will certainly be beheaded.” Kuang-Hsii then proceeded 
to say : “lam really getting weaker every day, and do not 
see my way to performing the necessary ceremonies on the 
occasion of Your Majesty's approaching birthday.” Com- 
passionately the Old Buddha replied: “It is more import- 
ant to me that you should recover your health than that 
you should knock your head on the ground in my honour.” 
The Emperor fell on his knees to thank her for these 
gracious words, but collapsed in a fainting fit. Prince 
Ch'ing thereupon advised that a certain doctor, Ch’ii 
Yung-chiu, trained in Europe, should be called in, but his 
advice was not followed till later. On the following day 
His Majesty enquired of the Court physicians in attend- 
ance, whose medical training is the same as that which 
has been handed down since the days of the T'ang Dynasty, 
whether his disease was likely to be fatal. “The heart of 
Your Emperor is greatly disturbed,” said he. Dr. Lu 
Yung-ping replied: “There is nothing in Your Majesty's 
present condition to indicate any mortal disease. We 
beseech Your Majesty to be calm : it is for us, your 
servants, to be perturbed in spirit.” 

After Tzu Hsi's stroke of paralysis, the wildest rumours 
were circulated as to her condition, so much so thdt, realis- 
ing the excited state of provincial opinion, and^ its relation 
to the question of the Constitution which was to have been 
granted, Her Majesty decided to carry out without further 
delay the promise she made in 1^906. On the ist of the 8th 


Moon, she therefoii^ promulgated a Decree^ showing signs 
of the same spirit of lofty statesmanship as was displayed 
by the rulers of Japan, and evidently based on their 
example, whereby it was promised that a. constitutional 
form of gpvernment would be completely established within 
a period of nine years. At the same time it was decreed 
that every branch of the government should institute the 
changes necessary to facilitate the introduction of the new 
dispensation. On issuing this Decree she expressed her 
hope of living to witness the convening of the first Chinese 
Parliament, and added that if Prince Tuan’s son had 
proved himself worthy, and had remained Heir Apparent, 
he would by now have been' of age to carry on the govern- 
ment after the Emperor’s death. Age was creeping upon 
her, and she would be glad to retire to the Sununer Palace 
for her declining years. As long as matters remained in 
their present state, it would be necessary to refer important 
questions for her decision, but she greatly wished that the 
period of her Regency should not be indefinitely prolonged. 

In September occurred the fiftieth birthday of the ex- 
Viceroy of Chihli Yiian Shih-k’ai, while the Court was 
still in residence at the Summer Palace. The Old Buddha 
showered costly gifts upon her trusted Minister, and almost 
every high official in Peking attended the birthday cere- 
monies to present congratulations and gifts. Conspicuous 
by his absence, however, was the Emperor’s brother. Prince 
Ch’un (subsequently Regent), who had applied for short 
leave in order to avoid being present, and who offered no 

A significant incident occurred in connection with the 
birthday ceremonies. Among the many complimentary 
scrolls, presented by friends and hanging on the walls, 
were a pair which attracted much attention, until they were 
hurriedly removed. One contained the following inscrip- 
tion: “5th day of the 8th Moon of the Wu Shen year” 
(this was the date of the crisis of the coup d’itat when iTlian 
Shih-k’ai warned Jung Lu of the plot, and thus brqtigltt 
about the practical dethronement of the Emperor), an4. on 
the other were the words: “May the Emperor live. :ten 

Min:; L\ki:, <»r j in: Sr.MMKR 

thousand years ! May Your Excellency live ten thousand 

The words wan sui, meaning' “ten thousand years,” 
we not applicable to any subject of the Throne, and the 
inner meaning of these words was, therefore, interpreted 
to be a charge against Yiian of conspiring for the Throne. 
It was clear that some enemy had sent the scrolls as a 
reminder of Yiian ’s betrayal of his Sovereign ten years 
before, and that they had been hung up either as the 
result of connivance or carelessness on the part of Yiian’s 
people. Four months later, when the great ex-Viceroy 
fell, this incident was remembered and inevitably con- 
nected with Prince Ch’un’s non-appearance at the birthday 

In September, the Dalai Lama reached Peking, but owing 
to a dispute on certain details of ceremonial, his audience 
was postponed. It was finally arranged that the Pontiff 
should “ ko-tow ” to the Throne, and that the Emperor 
should then rise from his seat and invite the Lama to sit 
beside him on a cane couch. This ceremonial was most 
reluctantly accepted, and only after much discussion, by 
the Dalai Lama, who considered his dignity seriously 
injured by having to “ ko-tow.” He had brought with him 
much tribute, and was therefore the more disappointed at 
the Old Buddha’s failure to show him the marks of respect 
which he had expected. His audience was held early in 
October, when Her Majesty requested him to offer up 
prayers regularly for her long life and prosperity. 

In October, the foreign Ministers were also received at 
the Summer Palace, and on the 20th of that month the 
Court returned to the Lake Palace for the winter. . On this, 
her last State progress, the Empress Dowager approached 
the city as usual in her State barge, by the canal which 
joins the Summer Palace Lake with the waters of the 
Winter Palace, proceeding in it as far as the Temple of 
Imperial Longevity, which is situated on the banks of this 
canal. It was observed that as she left the precincts of the 
Summer Palace she gazed longingly towards the lofty walls 
that rise from the banks of the Jake, and from thence to the 

28 o china under the EMPRESS DOWAGER 

hills receding into the far distance. Turning to the 
“Lustrous” concubine who sat at her feet, she expressed 
her fear; that the critical condition of the Emperor would 
prevent her from visiting her favourite residence for a long 
time to come. 

The Old Buddha sat in a cane chair on the raised deck 
of her magnificent barge adorned with carved dragons and 
phoenixes; she was surrounded by her favourite eunuchs, 
and half a dozen of the chief ladies of the Court. As she 
descended from the barge, supported by two eunuchs, and 
entered the sedan-chair which bore her to within the temple 
precincts, her vivacity and good spirits formed a subject 
of general comment. She performed the usual sacrifices at 
the Temple of Imperial Longevity, a shrine which she had 
liberally endowed; but it was remembered after her death, 
as an unfortunate omen, that the last stick of incense failed 
to ignite. Upon leaving the temple she begged the priests 
to chant daily liturgies and to pray for her longevity, in 
view of her approaching birthday. 

After leaving the temple precincts she proceeded with 
her ladies-in-waiting to the Botanical and Zoological 
Garden, which lie just outside the “ West-Straight ” gate 
of the city. On arrival at the gates, she insisted upon 
descending from her sedan-chair, and made the entire 
round of the gardens on foot. She expressed interest and 
much pleasure at the sight of animals which she had never 
seen before, and announced her intention of frequently 
visiting the place. She asked numerous questions of the 
keepers, being especially interested in the lions, and 
created much amusement amongst her immediate entourage 
by asking the director of the gardens (a Manchu official of 
the Household) for information as to where the animals 
came from, a subject on which he was naturally quite 
uninformed. “You don’t seem to know much about 
zoology,” she observed, and turned from the crestfallen 
official to address one of the keepers in a most informal 
manner. The chief eunuch, Li Lien-ying, wearied by such 
unwonted exercise, implored Her Majesty not to tire her- 
self, but the Old Buddha tpok pleasure, clearly malicious, 


in hurrying him round the grounds. The occasion was 
unusual and remarkably informal, and the picture brings 
irresistibly to the English mind memories of^nother 
strong-minded Queen and her inspection of another garden, 
where heads were insecure for gardeners and Cheshire 
cats. Eye-witnesses of that day’s outing commented freely 
on their Imperial Mistress’s extraordinary spirits and 
vitality, predicting for her many years of life. 

Her Majesty, whose memory on unexpected subjects 
was always remarkable, referred on this ojccasion to the 
elephant which had been presented to her by Tuan Fang 
upon his return from Europe, and which, together with 
several other animals for which she had no fitting accom- 
modation in the palace grounds, was the first cause and 
first inmate of the Zoological Gardens. The elephant in 
question had originally been in charge of the two German 
keepers who had accompanied it from Hagenbeck’s estab- 
lishment ; these men had frequently but unsuccessfully pro- 
tested at the insufficient rations provided for the beast by 
the Mandarin in charge. Eventually the elephant had died 
of slow starvation, and the keepers had returned to Europe, 
after obtaining payment of their unexpired contracts, a 
result which brought down upon the offending official Her 
Majesty’s severe displeasure. She referred now to this 
incident, and expressed satisfaction that most of the animals 
appeared to be well cared for, though the tigers’ attendant 
received a sharp rebuke. 

After Her Majesty’s return to the Winter Palace every 
thing was given over to preparations for the celebration of 
her seventy-third birthday on the 3rd of November. The 
main streets of the city were decorated, and in the palace 
itself arrangements were made for a special theatrical per- 
formance to last for five days. A special ceremony, quite 
distinct from the ordinary birthday congratulations of the 
Court, was arranged for the Dalai Lama, who wa !5 to make 
obeisance before Her Majesty at the head of his following 
of priests. The health of His Majesty did not permit of 
his carrying out the prescribed ceremony of prostration 
before Her Majesty’s Throne in the main Palace of 


Ceremonial Phcenixes; he therefore deputed a Prince of 
the Blood to represent him in the performance of this 
duty, ai^ thpse who knew its deep significance on such an 
occasion realised that the condition of his health must 
indeed be desperate. This impression was confirmed by 
the fact that he was similarly compelled to abandon his 
intention of being present at a special banquet to be given 
to the Dalai Lama in the Palace of Tributary Envoys. The 
high priest, who had been compelled to kneel outside the 
banquet hall Jo await the arrival of His Majesty, was 
greatly incensed at this occurrence. 

At eight in the morning of the birthday His Majesty left 
his palace in the “Ocean Terrace” and proceeded to the 
Throne Hall. His emaciated and wobegone appearance 
was such, however, that the Old Buddha took compassion 
upon him, and bade his attendant eunuchs support him to 
his palanquin, excusing him from further attendance. 
Later in the day she issued a special Decree praising the 
loyalty of the Dalai Lama, and ordering him to return 
promptly to Thibet, “there to extol the generosity of the 
Throne of China, and faithfully to obey the commands of 
the Sovereign Power.” The Empress Dowager spent the 
afternoon of her birthday in the congenial amusement of 
a masquerade, appearing in the costume of the Goddess 
of Mercy, attended by a numerous suite of concubines, 
Imperial Princesses, and eunuchs, all in fancy dress. They 
picnicked on the lake, and Her Majesty appeared to be in 
the very highest spirits. Unfortunately, towards evening, 
she caught a chill, and thereafter, partaking too freely of d 
mixture of clotted cream and crab apples, she had a return 
of the dysenteric complaint from which she had suffered 
all through the summer. On the following day she 
attended to affairs of State as usual, reading a vast number 
of memorials and recording her decision thereon, but on 
the 5th of November neither she nor the Emperor yrere 
sufficiently well to receive the Grand Council, so that all 
business of government was suspended for two days. 
Upon hearing of Her Majesty’s illness, the Dalai Lama 
hastened to present her with an image of Buddha, which. 


he said, should be despatched forthwith to her mausoleum 
at the hills, the building of which had just been completed 
under the supervision of Prince Ch’ing.^ The hjgh priest 
urged all haste in transmitting this miracle-working image 
to her future burial-place ; if it were done quickly, he said, 
her life would be prolonged by many years, because the 
unlucky conjunction of the stars now affecting her adversely 
would avail nothing against the magic power of this 
image. The Old Buddha was greatly reassured by the 
Dalai Lama's cheerful prognostications, and next morning 
held audience as usual. She commanded Prince Ch’ing 
to proceed without delay to the tombs, and there to deposit 
the miraculous image on the altar.* She ordered him to 
pay particular attention to the work done at the mausoleum, 
and to make certain that her detailed instructions had been 
faithfully carried out. Prince Ch’ing demurred somewhat 
at these instructions, inquiring whether she really wished 
him to leave Peking at a time when she herself and the 
Emperor were both ill. But the Old Buddha would brook 
no argument, and peremptorily ordered him to proceed as 
instructed. “I am not likely to die,” she said, “during 
the next few days; already I am feeling much better. In 
any case you will do as you are told.” On Monday, 
November 9th, both the Empress Dowager and the Em- 
peror were present at a meeting of the Grand Council, and 
a special audience was given to the Educational Com- 
missioner of Chihli province, about to leave for his post. 
At this audience the Old Buddha spoke with some bitter- 
ness of the increasing tendency of the student class to give 
vent to revolutionary ideas, and she commanded the Com- 
missioner of Education to do all in his power to check their 
political activities. 

Shortly afterwards four more physicians, who had come 

* He had succeeded Jung Lu as custodian of the mausolea. 

* The Imperial Mausoleum lies about ninety miles to ^e east of 
Peking, covering a vast enclosure of magnificent approach and decorated 
with splendid specimens of the best style of Chinese architecture. It 
consists of four palaces, risiUg one behind the other, and. 'at the' back of 
the fourth and highest stands the huge mound classically termed the 
“Jewelled Citadel,” under which lies the spacious grave chamber. 


up from the provinces, were admitted to see His Majesty. 
That same afternoon he had a serious relapse, and from 
that da^i^forward never left his palace. On the following 
morning he sent a dutiful message (or it was sent for him) 
enquiring after the Empress Dowager’s health, she being 
also confined to her room and holding no audiences. The 
Court physicians reported badly of both their Imperial 
patients : being fearful as to the outcome, they begged 
the Comptroller-General of the Household to engage other 
physicians in their place. The Grand Council sent a 
message to Prince Ch’ing, directing him to return to 
Peking with all haste, his presence being required forth- 
with on matters of the highest importance. Travelling 
night and day, he reached the capital at about eight o’clock 
in the morning of the 13th, and hastened to the palace. He 
found the Old Buddha cheerful and confident of ultimate 
recovery, but the Emperor was visibly sinking, his con- 
dition being comatose, with short lucid intervals. His last 
conscious act had been to direct his Consort to inform 
the Empress Dowager that he regretted being unable to 
attend her, and that he hoped that she would appoint an 
Heir Apparent without further delay. Whether these 
dutiful messages were spontaneous or inspired, and indeed, 
whether they were ever sent by the Emperor, is a matter 
upon which doubt has been freely expressed. 

Immediately after the arrival of Prince Ch’ing, an im- 
portant audience was held in the Hall of Ceremonial 
Phoenixes. Her Majesty was able to mount the Throne, 
and, though obviously weak, her unconquerable courage 
enabled her to master her physical ailments, and she spoke 
with all her wonted vehemence and lucidity. A well- 
informed member of the Grand Council, full of wonder at 
such an exhibition of strength of will, has recorded the 
fact that she completely led and dominated the Council. 
There were present Prince Ch’ing, Prince Ch’un, the 
Grand Councillor Yiian Shih-k’ai, and the Grand Secre- 
taries Chang Chih-tung, Lu Ch’uanJin and Shih Hsii. 

Her Majesty announced that the time had come to 
nominate an Heir to the Emperor T’ung-Chih, in accord- 
ance with that Decree of the first day of the reign of Kuang- 


Hsu, wherein it was provided that the deceased Sovereign’s 
ancestral rites should be safeguarded by allowing him pre- 
cedence over his successor of the same generation* Her 
choice, she said, was already made, but she desired to take 
the opinion of the Grand Councillors in the first instance. 
Prince Ch’ing and Yuan Shih-k’ai then recommended the 
appointment of Prince P’u Lun, or, failing him. Prince 
Kung. They thought the former, as senior great-grandson 
of Tao-Kuang, was the more eligible candidate, and with 
this view Prince Ch’ing seemed disposed to agree. The 
remaining Grand Councillors, however, adVised the selec- 
tion of Prince Ch’un’s infant son. 

After hearing the views of her Councillors, the Old 
Buddha announced that long ago, at the time when she 
had betrothed the daughter of Jung Lu to Prince Ch’un, 
she had decided that the eldest son of this marriage should 
become Heir to the Throne, in recognition and reward of 
Jung Lu’s lifelong devotion to her person, and his para- 
mount services to the Dynasty at the time of the Boxer 
rising. She placed on record her opinion that he had 
saved the Manchus by refusing to assist in the attack upon 
the Legations. In the 3rd Moon of this year she had 
renewed her pledge to Jung Lu’s widow, her oldest friend, 
just before she died. She would, therefore, now bestow 
upon Prince Ch’un as Regent, the title of “Prince co- 
operating in the Government,’’ a title one degree higher 
than that which had been given to Prince Kung in 1861, 
who was made “Adviser to the Government’’ by herself 
and her Co-Regent. 

Upon hearing this decision, Prince Ch’un arose from 
his seat and repeatedly “ko-towed” before Her Majesty, 
expressing a deep sense of his own unworthiness. Once 
more Yiian Shih-k’ai courageously advanced the superior 
claims of Prince P’u Lun : he was sincerely of opinion 
that the time had come for the succession to bo continued 
along the original lines of primogeniture ; it was clear also 
that he fully realised that Prince Ch’un \^as His bitter 
enemy. The Old Buddha turned upon him with an angry 
reprimand. “You think,*’ she said, “that I am old, and 
in my dotage, but you sh6uM have learned by now that 


when I make up my mind nothing stops me from acting 
upan iU At a critical time in a nation’s affairs a youthful 
Sovereign is no doubt a source of danger to the State, 
but do not forget that I shall be here to direct and assist 
Prince Ch’un.” Then, turning to the other Councillors, 
she continued ; “ Draft two Decrees at once, in my name, 
the first, appointing Tsai-feng, Prince Ch’un, to be ‘ Prince 
co-operating in the Government ’ and the second command-^ 
ing that P’u Yi, son of Prince Ch’un, should enter the 
pal^e forthwith, to be brought up within the precincts.” 
She ordered Prince Ch’ing to inform the Emperor of these 

Kuang-Hsii was still conscious, and understood what 
Prince Ch’ing said to him. ‘‘Would it not have been 
better,” he said, “to nominate an adult? No doubt, how- 
ever, the Empress Dowager knows best,” Upon hearing 
<rf the appointment of Prince Ch’un to the Regency, he 
expressed his gratification. This was at 3 p.m. ; two hours 
later the infant Prince had been brought into the palace, 
and was taken by his father to be shown both to the 
Empress Dowager and the Emperor. At seven o’clock on 
the following morning the physicians in attendance 
reported that His Majesty’s “nose was twitching and his 
stomach rising,” from which signs they knew that his end 
was at hand. During the night, feeling that death was 
near, he had written out his last testament, in a hand almost 
illegible, prefacing the same with these significant words : — 

“We were the second son of Prince Ch’un when the Empress 
Dowager selected Us for the Throne. She has always hated 
Us, but for Our misery of the past ten years Yuan Shih-k’ai is 
responsible, and one other ” (the second name is said to have 
been illegible). “When the time comes I desire that Yuan be 
summarily beheaded.” 

The Emperor’s consort took possession of this docu- 
ment, which, however, was seen by independent witnesses. 
Its wording goes to show that any conciliatory atitude on 
the part of the Emperor during the last year must have 
beep inspired by fear and not by any revival of affection. 

Later in the day a Decree was promulgated, announcing 
to the inhabitants of Peking and the Empire that their 


Sovereign’s condition was desperate^ and calling on the 
provinces to send their most skilful physicians post-haste 
to the capital so that, perchance, His Majesty’s life might 
yet be saved. The EVecree described in detail the symp- 
toms, real or alleged, of Kuang-Hsii’s malady. It was 
generally regarded as a perfunctory announcement of an 
unimportant event, long expected. 

At 3 P.M. the Empress Dowager came to the Ocean 
Terrace to visit the Emperor, but he was unconscious, 
and did not know her. Later, when a short return of con- 
sciousness occurred, his attendants endeavoured to per- 
suade him to put on the Ceremonial Robes of Longevity, 
in which etiquette prescribes that sovereigns should die. 
It is the universal custom that, if possible, the patient 
should don these robes in his last moments, for it is con- 
sidered unlucky if they are put on after death. His 
Majesty, however, obstinately declined, and at five o’clock 
he died, in the presence of the Empress Dowager, his con- 
sort, the two secondary consorts, and a few eunuchs. The 
Empress Dowager did not remain to witness the ceremony 
of clothing the body in the Dragon Robes, but returned 
forthwith to her own palace, where she gave orders for the 
issue of his valedictory Decree and for the proclamation of 
the new Emperor. 

The most interesting passage of the Emperor’s vale- 
dictory Decree was the following : “ Reflecting on the critical 
condition of our Empire, we have been led to combine the 
Chinese system with certain innovations from foreign 
countries. We have endeavoured to establish harmony 
between the common people and converts to Christianity. 
We have reorganised the army and founded colleges. 
We have fostered trade and industries and have made 
provision for a new judicial system, paving also the way 
for a Constitutional form of government, so that all 
our subjects may enjoy the continued blessings of peace.” 
After referring to the appointment of the Regent dnd 
the nomination of a successor to the Dragon Tyrone,' he 
concluded (or rather the Empress concluded for him) 
with a further reference 'to the Constitution, and an appeal 
to his Ministers to purify their hearts and proparc 


themselves, so that, after nine years, the new order may 
be accomplished, and the Imperial purposes successfully 

The Old Buddha appeared at this juncture to be in par- 
ticularly good spirits, astonishing all about her by her 
vivacity and keenness. She gave orders that a further 
Decree be published, in the name of the new Emperor, 
containing the usual laudation of the deceased monarch 
and an expression of the infant Emperor’s gratitude to the 
Empress Dowager for her benevolence in placing him on 
the Throne. 

It will be remembered that the Censor Wu K’o-tu com- 
mitted suicide at the beginning of Kuang-Hsii’s reign, as 
an act of protest at the irregularity in the succession, which 
left no heir to the Emperor T’ung-Chih, that monarch’s 
spirit being left desolate and without a successor to per- 
form on his behalf the ancestral sacrifices. The child, P’u 
Yi, having now been made heir by adoption to T’ung- 
Chih, in fulfilment of the promise made by Tzu Hsi at 
the time of this sensational suicide, it appeared as if the 
irregularity were about to be repeated, and the soul of 
Kuang-Hsii to be left in a similar orbate condition in the 
Halls of Hades, unless some means could be found to 
solve the difficulty and meet the claims of both the deceased 
Emperors. In the event of Kuang-Hsii being left without 
heir or descendant to perform the all-important worship at 
his shrine, there could be but little doubt that the feelings 
of the orthodox would again be outraged, and the example 
of Wu K’o-tu might have been followed by other Censors. 
The Empress Dowager, realising the importance of the 
question, solved it in her own masterful way by a stroke of 
policy which, although without precisely applicable prece- 
dent in history, nevertheless appeared to satisfy all parties, 
and to placate all prejudices, if only by reason of its 
simplicity and originality. Her Decree on the subject was 
as follows : — 

**The Emperor T’ung-Chih, having left no heir, was com- 
pelled to issue a Decree to the effect that so soon as a child 
should be born to His Majesty Kuang-HsQ, that child would 


be adopted as Heir to the Emperor T'ung-Chih. But now his 
Majesty Kuang-Hsii has ascended on high, dragon-borne, and 
he also has left no heir. I am, therefore, now obliged to 
decree that P'u Yi, son of Tsai Feng, the ‘ Prince co-operating 
in the Government,* should become heir by adoption to the 
Emperor T*ung-Chih, and that, at the same time, he should 
perform joint sacrifices at the shrine of His Majesty Kuang- 

To those who are acquainted with the tangled web of 
Chinese Court ceremonial and the laws of succession, it 
would seem that so simple (and so new) an expedient might 
suitably have been adopted on previous similar occasions, 
since all that was required was to make the individual living 
Emperor assume a dual personality towards the dead, and 
one cannot help wondering whether the classical priestcraft 
which controls these things would have accepted the 
solution so readily at the hands of anyone less masterful 
and determined than Tzu Hsi. 

In a subsequent Decree the Empress Dowager handed 
over to the Regent full control in all routine business, 
reserving only to herself the last word in all important 
matters of State. The effect of this arrangement was to 
place Prince Ch’un in much the same position of nominal 
sovereignty as that held by Kuang-Hsii himself, until such 
time as the young Emperor should come of age, or until 
the death of the Empress Dowager. In other words, Tzu 
Hsi had once more put in operation the machinery by 
which she had acquired and held the supreme power since 
the death of her husband, the Emperor Hsien-Feng. There 
is little doubt that at this moment she fully expected to live 
for many years more, and that she made her plans so as to 
enjoy to the end uninterrupted and undiminished authority. 
In her Decree on this subject, wherein, as usual, she justi- 
fies her proceedings by reference to the critical condition 
of affairs, she states that the Regent is to carry on the 
Government “subject always to the instructions of the 
Empress Dowager,’* and there can be no doubt. that had 
she lived the Emperor’s brother would no more have been 
permitted any independent initiative or authority than the 
unfortunate Kuang-Hsii himself. 



At the close of a long and exciting day, Her Majesty 
retired to rest on the 14th of November, weary with her 
labours but apparently much improved in health. Next 
morning she arose at her usual hour, 6 a.m., gave audience 
to the Grand Council and talked for some time with the 
late Emperor’s widow, with the Regent and with his wife, 
the daughter of Jung Lu. By a Decree issued in the name 
of the infant Emperor, she assumed the title of Empress 
Grand Dowager, making Kuang-Hsii’s widow Empress 
Dowager. Elaborate ceremonies were planned to celebrate 
the bestowal of these new titles, and to proclaim the in- 
stallation of the Regent. Suddenly, at noon, while sitting 
at her meal, the Old Buddha was seized with a fainting fit, 
long and severe. When at last she recovered conscious- 
ness, it was clear to all that the stress and excitement of the 
past few days had brought on a relapse, her strength 
having been undermined by the long attack of dysentery. 
Realising that her end was near, she hurriedly summoned 
the new Empress Dowager, the Regent and the Grand 
Council to the palace, where, upon their coming together, 
she dictated the following Decree, speaking in the same 
calm tones which she habitually used in transacting the 
daily routine of Government work: — 

“ By command of the Empress Grand Dowager : Yesterday 
I issued an Edict whereby Prince Ch’un was made Regent, 
and I commanded that the whole business of Government 
should be in his hands, subject only to my instructions. Being 
seized of a mortal sickness, and being without hope of recovery, 
I now order that henceforward the government of the Empire 
shall be entirely in the hands of the Regent. Nevertheless, 
should there arise any question of vital importance, in regard 
to which an expression of the Empress Dowager’s opinion 
is desirable, the Regent shall apply in person to her for 
instructions, and act accordingly.” 




The significance of the conclusion of this .Decree is 
apparent to anyone familiar with Chinese Court procedure 
and with the life history of the Empress herselff Its in- 
genious wording was expressly intended to afford to the 
new Empress Dowager and the Yehonala Clan an oppor- 
tunity for intervention at any special crisis, thus maintain- 
ing the Clan’s final authority and safeguarding its position 
in the event of any hostile move by the Regent or his 
adherents. The result of this precaution was manifested 
on the occasion of the dismissal of Tuan Fang from the 
Viceroyalty of Chihli for alleged want of respect in con- 
nection with the funeral ceremonies of the Empress 
Dowager, an episode which showed clearly that the Regent 
>vould have no easy game to play, and that the new 
Empress Dowager, Lung Yii, had every intention to de- 
fend the position of the Clan and to take advantage thereof, 
along lines very similar to those followed by her august 

After issuing tlie Decree above quoted, the Empress 
Dowager, rapidly sinking, commanded that her valedictory 
Decree be drafted and submitted to her for approval. This 
was done quickly. After perusing the document, she pro- 
ceeded to correct it in several places, notably by the addition 
of the sentence : “ It became my inevitable and bounden 
duty to assume the Regency.” Commenting on this addi- 
tion, she volunteered the explanation that she wished it 
inserted because on more than one occasion her assumption 
of the supreme power had been wrongfully attributed to 
personal ambition, whereas, as a matter of fact, the welfare 
of the State had always weighed with her as much as her 
own inclinations, and she had been forced into this posi- 
tion. From her own pen also came the touching conclu- 
sion of the Decree, that sentence which begins : “Looking 
back over the memories of these fifty years,” etc. She 
observed, in writing this, that she had nothing to regret in 
her life, and could only wish that it might have' lasted for 
many years more. She then proceeded to bid ^n affeo 
donate farewell to her numerous personal attendants and 
the waiting maids around her, all of whom were overcome 


by very r^l and deep grief. To the end her mind remained 
quite clear ; and, at the very point of death, she continued 
to speak as oalmly as if she were just about to set out on 
one of her progresses to the Summer Palace. Again and 
again, when all thought the end had come, she recovered 
consciousness, and up to the end the watchers at her bed- 
side could not help hoping (or fearing, as the case might 
be with them) that she would yet get the better of Death. 
At the last, in articulo mortis, they asked her, in accord- 
ance with the Chinese custom, to pronounce her last words. 
Strangely significant was the answer of the extraordinary 
woman who had moulded and guided the destinies of the 
Chinese people for half a century : “ Never again,” she 
said, “allow any woman to hold the supreme power in the 
State. It is against the house-law of our Dynasty and 
should be strictly forbidden. Be careful not to permit 
eunuchs to meddle in Government matters. The Ming 
Dynasty was brought to ruin by eunuchs, and its fate 
should be a warning to my people.” Tzfl Hsi died, as she 
had lived, above the law, yet jealous of its fulfilment by 
others. Only a few hours before she had provided for the 
transmission of authority to a woman of her own clan : 
now, confronting the dark Beyond, she hesitated to per- 
petuate a system which, in any but the strongest hands, 
could not fail to throw the Empire into confusion. She 
died, as she had lived, a creature of impulse and swiftly 
changing moods, a woman of infinite variety. 

At 3 P.M., straightening her limbs, she expired with her 
face to the south, which is the correct position, according to 
Chinese ideas, for a dying sovereign. It was reported by 
those who saw her die that her mouth remained fixedly 
open, which the Chinese interpret as a sign that the spirit of 
the deceased is unwilling to leave the body and to take its 
departure for the place of the Nine Springs. 

Thus died TzQ Hsi; and when her ladies and hand- 
maidens had dressed the body in its Robes of State, em- 
broidered with the Imperial Dragon, her remains and those 
of the Emperor were borne from the Lake Palace to die 
Forbidden City, through long lines of their kneeling sul>> 


jects, and were reverently laid in separate Halls of the 
Palace, with all due state and ceremony. 

The valedictory Decree of Tzix Hsi, the last words from 
that pen which had indeed been mightier than many 
swords, was for the most part a faithful reproduction of 
the classical models, the orthodox swan-song of the ruler 
of a people which makes of its writings a religion. Its 
concluding words were as follows : — 

“Looking back upon the memories of these last fifty years, 
I pc^rceive how calamities from within and .aggression from 
without have come upon us in relentless succession, and that 
my life has never enjoyed a moment’s respite from anxiety. 
But to-day definite progress has been made towards necessary 
reforms. The new Emperor is but an infant, just reaching 
the age when wise instruction is of the highest importance. 
The Prince Regent and all our officials must henceforward 
wiork loyally togetiier to strengthen the foundations of our 
Empire. His Majesty must devote himself to studying the 
interests of the country and so refrain from giving way to 
personal grief. That he may diligently pursue his studies, and 
hereafter add fresh lustre to the glorious achievements of his 
ancestors, is now my most earnest prayer. 

“Mourning to be worn for only twenty-seven days, 

“ Cause this to be everywhere known ! 

“Tenth Moon, 23rd day (November the 15th).” 

The title by which Her Majesty was canonised contains 
no less than twenty-two characters, sixteen of which were 
hers dt the day of her death, the other six having been 
added in the Imperial Decrees which recorded her decease 
and praised her glorious achievements. The first character 
“Dutiful ” — i. e. to her husband — is always accorded to a 
deceased Empress. It is significant of the unpractical 
nature of the literati, or of their cynicism, that the second of 
her latest titles signifies “reverend,” implying punctilious 
adherence to ancestral traditions I The third and fourth 
mean “Equal of Heaven,” which places her on a footing 
of equality with Confucius, while the fifth and -sixth raise 
her even higher than the Sage in the national Pantheon, 
for it means “Increase in Sanctity,” of whfch Confucius 
was only a “Manifestor.” In the records of the Dynasty 


she will henceforth be known as the Empress “Dutiful, 
Reverend * and Glorious,** a title, according to the laws 
of Chine^se hpnorifics, higher than any woman ruler has 
hitherto received since the beginning of history. 

Since her death, the prestige of the Empress Dowager, 
and her hold on the invagination of the people, have grown 
rather than decreased. Around her coffin, while it lay first 
in her Palace of Peaceful Longevity and later in a hall 
at the foot of the Coal Hill, north of the Forbidden City, 
awaiting the appointed day propitious for burial, there 
gathered something more than the conventional regrets 
and honours which fall usually to the lot of China’s rulers. 
Officials as well as people felt that with her they had lost 
the strong hand of guidance, and a personality which 
appealed to most of them as much from the human as from 
the official point of view. Their affectionate recollections 
of the Old Buddha were clearly shown by the elaborate 
sacrifices paid to her manes at various periods from the day 
of her death to that day, a year later, when her ancestral 
tablet was brought home to the Forbidden City from the 
Imperial tombs with all pomp and circumstance. 

On the All Souls* day of the Buddhists, celebrated in the 
7 th Moon, and which fell in the September following her 
death, a magnificent barge, made of paper and over a 
hundred and fifty feet long, was set up outside the For- 
bidden City on a large empty space adjoining the Coal 
Hill. It was crowded with figures of attendant eunuchs 
and handmaidens, and contained furniture and viands for 
the use of the illustrious dead in the lower regions. A 
throne was placed in the bows, and around it were kneeling 
effigies of attendant officials all wearing their Robes of 
State as if the shade of Tzu Hsi were holding an audience. 

On the morning of the All Souls’ festival the Regent, 
in the name of the Emperor, performed sacrifice before 
the barge, which was then set alight and burnt, in order that 
the Old Buddha might enjoy the use of it at the “yellow 
springs.’* A day or two before her funeral, hundreds of 
paper effigies of attendants, cavalry, camels and other pack 
animals, were similarly burni so that her spirit might 



enjoy all the pomp to which she had been accustomed 
in life. 

The following is an extract from the account# of her 
funeral published in The Times of 27th November 1909 : — 

“The conveyance of Her Majesty’s ancestral tablet from the 
tombs of the Eastern Hills to its resting-place in the Temple 
of Ancestors in the Forbidden City was a ceremony in the 
highest degree impressive and indicative of the vitality of those 
feelings which make ancestor-worship the most important factor 
in the life of the Chinese. The tablet, a simple strip of carved 
and lacquered wood, bearing the name of the deceased in 
Manchu and Chinese characters, had been officially present at 
the burial. With the closing of the great door of the tomb, the 
spirit of the departed ruler is supposed to be translated to 
the tablet, and to the latter is therefore given honour equal to 
that which was accorded to the sovereign during her lifetime. 
Borne aloft in a gorgeous chariot draped with Imperial yellow 
silk and attended by a large mounted escort, Tzh Hsi’s tablet 
journeyed slowly and solemnly, in three days’ stages, from the 
Eastern Hills to Peking. At each stage it rested for the night 
in a specially constructed pavilion, being * invited * by the 
Master of the Ceremonies, on his knees and with all solemnity, 
to be pleased to leave its chariot and rest. For the passage 
of this habitation of the spirit of the mighty dead, the Imperial 
road had been specially prepared and swept by an army of men ; 
it had become a via sacra on which no profane feet might come 
or go. As the procession bearing the sacred tablet drew near 
to the gates of the capital, the Prince Regent and all the high 
officers of the Court knelt reverently to receive it. All traffic 
was stopped; every sound stilled in the streets, where the 
people knelt to do homage to the memory of the Old Buddha. 
Slowly and solemnly the chariot was borne through the main 
gate of the Forbidden City to the Temple of the Dynasty's 
ancestors, the most sacred spot in the Empire, where it was 
‘ invited ’ to take its appointed place among the nine Ancestors 
and their thirty-five Imperial Consorts. Before this could be 
done, however, it was necessary that the tablets of TzU Hsi’s 
son, T’ung-Chih, and of her daughter-in-law, should first be 
removed from that august assembly, because due ceremony 
required that the arriving tablet should perform obeisance to 
those of its ancestors, and it would not be fitting for the tablet 
of a parent to perform this ceremony in the presence of that of 
a son or daughter-in-law. The act of obeisance was performed 
by deputy, in the person of the Regent acting* for -the child 
Emperor, and consisted of nine ' ko-tows * before each tablet in 
the Temple, or ^bout 400 prostrations in all When these had 



been completed, with due regard to the order of seniority of 
the deceased, the tablets of the Emperor T'ung-Chih and his 
wife were formally ‘ invited * to return to the Temple, where 
obeisanch was made on their behalf to the shade of Tzh Hsi 
which had been placed in the shrine beside that of her former 
colleague and co-regent, the Empress Tzh An.” 

Thus ended the last ceremonial act of the life and death 
of this remarkable woman ; but her spirit still watches over 
the Forbidden City and the affairs of her people, who firmly 
believe that it will in due time guide the nation to a happy 
issue out of all their afflictions. As time goes on, the 
weaknesses of her character and the errors of her career are 
forgotten, and her greatness only remembered. And no 
better epitaph could be written {or this great Manchu than 
that of her own valedictory Decree which, rising above all 
the pettiness and humiliations of her reign, looking death 
and change steadfastly in the face, raises her in our eyes 
(to quote a writer in The Spectator) “to that vague ideal 
state of human governance imagined by the Greek, when 
the Kings should be philosophers and the philosophers 

' 2nd January, 1909. 



“All sweeping judgments,” says Coleridge, “are un- 
just.” Comprendre — says the French philosopher — c^est 
tout pardonner. To understand the life and personality 
of the Empress Dowager, it is before everything essential 
to divest our minds of racial prejudice and to endeavour to 
appreciate something of the environment and traditions to 
which she was born. In the words of the thoughtful article 
in The Spectator y already quoted, “she lived and worked 
and ruled in a setting which is apart from all western 
modes of thought and standards of action, and the first step 
in the historian’s task is to see that she is judged by her 
own standards and not wholly by ours.” Judged by the 
rough test of public opinion and accumulating evidence in 
her own country, Tzu Hsi’s name will go down to history 
in China as that of a genius in statecrah and a born ruler, 
a woman “with all the courage of a man, and more than 
the ordinary man’s intelligence,” ^ 

Pending that reform and liberty of the Press which is 
still the distant dream of “Young China,” no useful record 
of the life and times of the Empress Dowager is to be 
expected from any Chinese writer. Despite the mass of 
information which exists in the diaries and archives of 
metropolitan officials and the personal reminiscences of 
those who knew her well, nothing of any human interest or 
value has been published bn the subject in China. From 
the official and orthodox point of view, a truthful biography 
of the Empress would be sacrilege. It is true that in the 
vernacular newspapers under European protection at the 
Treaty Ports, as well as in Hongkong and Singapore, 
Cantonese writers have given impressions of Her Majesty’s 
personality and brief accounts of her life, But these are 

^ VMe the Diary of CJiing Shaa, p. 179. 



so hopelessly biassed and distorted by hatred of the 
Manchu^ as to be almost worthless for historical purposes, 
as worthless as the dry chronicles of the dynastic annals. 
Reference has already been made to the best known of these 
publications, a series of letters originally published in a 
Singapore newspaper and republished under the title of 
“The Chinese Crisis from Within,”^ by a writer who, under 
the nom de plume of “Wen Ching,“ concealed the identity 
of one of K*ang Yu-wei’s most ardent disciples. His 
work is remarkable for sustained invective and reckless 
inaccuracy, clearly intended to create an atmosphere of 
hatred against the Manchus (for the ultimate benefit of the 
Cantonese) in the minds of his countrymen, and to dissuade 
the foreign Powers from allowing the Empress to return 
to Peking. Drawing on a typically Babu store of “western 
learning,” this writer compares the Empress to Circe, 
Semiramis, Catherine de Medici, Messalina, Fulvia, and 
Julia Agrippina; quoting Dante and Rossetti to enforce 
his arguments, and leavening his vituperation with a 
modicum of verifiable facts sufficient to give to his narrative 
something of vraisemblance. But his judgment is em- 
phatically sweeping. He ignores alike Tzii Hsi’s undeni- 
able good qualities and her extenuating circumstances, the 
defects of her education and the difficulties of her position, 
so that his work is almost valueless. 

Equally valueless, for purposes of historical accuracy, 
are most of the accounts and impressions of the Empress 
recorded by those Europeans (especially the ladies of the 
Diplomatic Body and their friends) who saw her person- 
ality and purposes reflected in the false light which beats 
upon the Dragon Throne on ceremonial occasions, or who 
came under the influence of the deliberate artifices and 
charm of manner which she assumed so well. Had the 
etiquette of her Court and people permitted intercourse 
with European diplomats and distinguished visitors of the 
male sex, she would certainly have acquired, and exercised 
over them also, that direct personal influence which 
emanated from her extraordinary vitality and will-power, 
' Grant Richards, 1901. • 



influence such as the western world has learned to associate 
with the names of the Emperor William of Germany and 
Mr. Roosevelt. Restricted as she was to social relations 
with her owh sex amongst foreigners, she exerted herself, 
and never failed, to produce on them an impression of 
womanly grace and gentleness of disposition, which quali- 
ties we find accordingly praised by nearly all who came in 
contact with her after the return of the Court, aye, even by 
those who had undergone the horrors of the siege under the 
very walls of her palace. The glamour of her mysterious 
Court, the rarity of the visions vouchsafed, the real charm 
of her manner, and the apparently artless bonhomie of 
her bearing, all combined to create in the minds of the 
European ladies who saw her an impression as favourable 
as it was opposed to every dictate of common sense and 
experience. In certain notable instances, the effect of this 
impression reacted visibly on the course of the Peace 
Protocol negotiations. 

From the Diary of Ching Shan we obtain an estimate of 
Tzu Hsi’s character, formed by one who had enjoyed for 
years continual opportunities of studying her at close 
quarters — an estimate which was, and is, confirmed by the 
popular verdict, the common report of the tea-houses and 
market places of the capital. Despite her swiftly changing 
and uncontrolled moods, her shildish lack of moral sense, 
her unscrupulous love of power, her fierce passions and 
revenges, Tzu Hsi was no more the savage monster 
described by “Wen Ching,” than she was the benevolent, 
fashion-plate Lady Bountiful of the American magazines. 
She was simply a woman of unusual courage and vitality, 
of strong will and unbounded ambition, a woman and an 
Oriental, living out her life by such lights as she* knew, and 
in accordance with the traditions of her race and caste. 
Says Ching Shan in the Diary : The nature of the Em-‘ 
press is peace4oving: she has seen many springs and 
autumns, I myself know well her refined and gentle tastes^ 
her love of paintings poetry and the theatre. ^ When in ja 
good mood she is the most amiable and tractable of womens 
but at times her ^age is awful to witness. Here we have 


the woman drawn from life, without arriere pensie, by a 
just but sympathetic observer, the woman who could win, 
and hold, the affectionate loyalty of the greatest men of 
her time, not to speak of that of her retainers and serving 
maids ; the woman whose human interest and sympathy in 
everything around her were not withered by age nor staled 
by custom ; yet who, at a word, could send the fierce leaders 
of the Boxers cowering from her presence. Souvent femme 
varie. Tzfi Hsi, her own mistress and virtual ruler of the 
Empire at the age of twenty-four, had not had much occa- 
sion to learn io control either her moods or her passions. 
Hers, from the first, was the trick and temper of autocracy. 
Trained in the traditions of a Court where human lives 
count for little, where power maintains itself by pitiless 
and brutal methods, where treason and foul deeds lie in 
waiting for the first signs of the ruler’s weakness, how 
should she learn to put away from the Forbidden City the 
hideous barbarities of its ways ? 

Let us remember her time and place. Consider the 
woman’s environment and training, her marriage to a dis- 
solute puppet, her subsequent life in that gilded prison of 
the Imperial city, with its endless formalities, base in- 
trigues and artificial sins. Prior to the establishment of 
China’s first diplomatic relations with European nations, 
the Court of Peking and its ways bore a strong resemblance 
to those of Medieval Europe ; nor have successive routs and 
invasions since that date changed any of its cherished tradi- 
tions and methods. In the words of a recent writer on 
medieval history, the life of the Peking Palace, like that 
of our fourteenth century, “was one of profound learning 
and crass stupidity, of infantile gaiety and sudden tragedy, 
of flashing fortunes and swift dooms. There is a certain 
innocence about the very sinners of the thirteenth and four- 
teenth centuries. Many of their problems, indeed, arose 
from the fact that this same childlike candour was allied 
to the unworn forces of full manhood.” Whatever crimes 
of cruelty and vengeance Tzu Hsi committed — and they 
were many — be it said to her credit that she had, as a rule, 
the courage of her convictions and pos^ion, and sinned 



coram publico. Beneath the fierceness without which an 
Oriental ruler cannot hope to remain effective, there <»r- 
tainly beat a heart which could be kind, if the conditions 
were propitious, and a rough sense of humour, which is a 
common and pleasing trait of the Manchus. 

Let us also remember that in the East to-day (as it was 
with us of Europe before the growth of that humanitarian- 
ism which now shows signsof unhealthy exaggeration) pain 
and death are part of the common, every-day risks of life, 
risks lightly incurred by the average Oriental in the great 
game of ambitions, loves, and hates that is fOr ever played 
around the Throne. Tzu Hsi played her royal part in the 
great game, but it is not recorded of her that she ever took 
life from sheer cruelty or love of killing. When she sent 
a man to death, it was because he stood between her and 
the full and safe gratification of her love of power. When 
her fierce rage was turned against the insolence of the 
foreigner, she had no scruple in consigning every European 
in China to the executioner ; when the Emperor’s favourite 
concubine disputed her Imperial authority she had no 
hesitation in ordering her to immediate death ; but in every 
recorded instance, except one, her methods were swift, 
clean, and, from the Oriental point of view, not unmerciful. 
She had no liking for tortures, or the lingering death. In 
all her Decrees of vengeance, we find the same unhesitat- 
ing firmness in removing human obstacles from her path, 
combined with a complete absence of that unnecessary 
cruelty which is so frequently associated with despotism. 
Her methods, in fact, were Elizabethan rather than 

If Tzu Hsi developed self-reliance early in life, the fact is 
not to be wondered at, for it was little help thatjshe had to 
look for in her entourage of Court officials. Amongst 
the effete classical scholars, the fat-paunched Falstaffs, the 
opium sots, doddering fatalists and corrupt parasites of the 
Imperial Clans, she seems, indeed, to have .been an 
anachronism, a “cast-back” to the virility and energy that 
won China for her sturdy ancestors. She appeared to be 
the born and inevitable ruler of the degenerate Dynasty, 


and if she became a law unto herself, it was largely be- 
cause there were few about her fit to lead or to comnmnd. 

Imljued with a very feminine love of luxury, addicied to 
pleasure, and at one period of her life undoubtedly licen- 
tious after the mhnner of her Court’s traditions, cOm- 
biped these qualities with a shre\^ common sense, and a 
nsarked penchant for acquiring and amassing persona! 
pSPperty. To use her owh phrase, she endeavoured in all 
things to observe the principle of the “happy mean,” and 
addom allowed her love of pleasure to obscure her vision 
or to hinder her purposes in the serious businesses of life. 

Like many great rulers of the imperious and militant 
type, she was remarkably superstitious, a punctilious 
observer of the rites prescribed for averting omens and 
conciliating the myriad gods and demons of the several 
religions of China, a liberal supporter of priests and sooth- 
sayers. Nevertheless, as with Elizabeth of England, her 
secular instincts were au fond stronger than all her super- 
stitions. That sturdy common sense, which played so 
successfully upon the weaknesses and the passions of her 
corrupt entourage, never allowed any consideration for the 
powers unseen to interfere seriously with her masterful 
iuundling of things visible, or to curb her ruling passions 
for unquestioned authority. 

The qualities which made up the remarkable personality 
of the Empress were many and complex, but of those which 
chiefly contributed to her popularity and power we would 
place, first, her courage, and next, a certain simplicity and 
directness — both qualities that stand out in strong relief 
against the timorous and tortuous tendencies of the average 
Manchu. Of her courage there could be no doubt; even 
aemidst th^ chaos of the days of the Boxer terror it never 
failed her, and Ching Shan is only one of many who bear 
witness to her unconquerable spirit and sang froid. Amidst 
scenes of desolation and destruction that might well shake 
the courage of the bravest men, we see her calmly painting 
bamboos on silk, or giving orders to stop the bornbardnumt 
of the Legations to allow of her excursion on the Lake. 
How powerful is the dramatic quality of .that scehe where 


I'ainted from life by Miss Catharine A. Carl fur the St. Luuis.Ti'-xposition 
and now the property of the American Naliun. 

{/^*>rothucd h) permission of the Artist.) 


she attacks an4 donutiates the truculent Boxer leaders at 
her very doors; or again 'vvhen, on the morning, the 
flight, J^e alone preserves presence of mind, and gives .^r 
orders as coolly as if starting on a picnic! Ait jsuch 
moments all the defects of her training and ten^erament 
are forgotten in the irresistible appeal of her nobler 
qualities. , 

Of those qualities, and of her divine right to rule, Tzd 
Hsi herself was fully convinced, and no less determined 
than His Majesty of Germany, to insist upon proper recog- 
nition and respect for herself and her commanding place 
in the scheme of the universe. Her belief in her own 
supreme importance, and her superstitious habit of thought 
were both strikingly displayed on the occasion when her 
portrait, painted by Miss Carl for the St. Louis Exposi- 
tion, was taken from the Waiwupu on its departure to the 
United States. She regarded this presentment of her 
august person as entitled, in all seriousness of ceremonial, 
to the same reverence as herself, and gave orders for the 
construction of a miniature railway, to be built through 
the streets of the capital for its special benefit. By this 
means the “ sacred countenance ” was carried upright, under 
its canopy of yellow silk, and Her Majesty was spared the 
thought of being borne in effigy on the shoulders of coolies 
— a form of progress too suggestively ill-omened to be 
endured. Before the portrait left the palace, the Em- 
peror was summoned to prostrate himself before it, and 
at its passing through the city, and along the railway line, 
the people humbly knelt, as if it had been the Old Buddha 
of flesh and blood. Incidents of this kind emphasise the 
impossibility of fairly judging the Empress by European 
standards of conduct and ideas. To get something of the 
proper atmosphere and perspective, we must go back to 
the oarly days of the “Tudors. 

Blunt of speech h^wlf, she was quick to detect and 
resent flattery. Thpse who rose highest in hef affection 
and regard were essentially strong men, blunt oute^kea 
officials of the type of Jung Lu, Tseng Kuo-fah, an’d Tso 
Tsung-t’ang; for those who would win her favour by 


sycophancy she had a profound contempt, which she was at 
no pains to conceal, though in certain instances (e. g. 
Chan^ Chih-tung) she overlooked the offence because of 
ripe scholarship or courage. 

As was only natural, Tzii Hsi was not above favouring 
her own people, the Manchus, but one great secret of the 
solidity of her rule undoubtedly^ lay in her broad impar- 
tiality and the nice balance which she maintained between 
Chinese and Manchus in all departments of the Govern- 
ment. She had realised that the brains and energy of the 
country must come from the Chinese, and that if the 
Manchus were to retain their power and sinecure positions, 
it must be with the good will of the Chinese and the loyalty 
of the Mandarin class in the provinces. From the com- 
mencement of her rule, down to the day when she handed 
over her Boxer kinsmen to the executioner, she never 
hesitated to inflict impartial punishment on Manchus, when 
public opinion was against them. A case in point occurred 
in 1863, in connection with one of her favourite generals, 
named Sheng Pao, who had gained her sincere gratitude 
by his share in the war against the British and French in- 
vaders in i860, and who, by luck and the ignorance of the 
Court, had been credited with having stopped the advance 
of the Allies to Jehol. For these alleged services she had 
awarded him special thanks and high honour. In 1863, 
however, he was engaged in Shensi, fighting the Taipings, 
and, following a custom not unusual amongst Chinese 
military commanders, had asked leave to win over one of 
the rebel leaders by giving him an important official posi- 
tion. Tzfl Hsi, who had had ample opportunities to learn 
something of the danger of this procedure, declined to 
sanction his request, pointing out the objections thereto. 
Sheng Pao ventured to suppress her Decree, and gave the 
rebel the position in question. Success might have justi- 
fied him, but the ex-bandit justified Tzd Hsi by going 
back on his word. Awaiting a good opportunity, he raised 
once more the standard of revolt, massacred a number of 
officials, and captured several important towns. General 



Sheng Pao was arrested and brought in custody to Peking ; 
under cross-examination he confessed, amongst other mis- 
demeanours, that he had permitted women to accompany 
the troops during this campaign, which, by Chinese mili- 
tary law, is a capital offence. Other charges against him, 
however, he denied, and, preserving an insolent attitude, 
demanded to be confronted with his accusers. Tzvi Hsi 
issued a characteristically vigorous Decree in which she 
declared that the proper punishment for his offence was 
decapitation, but inasmuch as he had acquired merit by 
good work against the Taipings, as well as against the 
British and French invaders, she graciously granted him 
the privilege of committing suicide, of which he promptly 
availed himself. 

Tzu Hsi, as we have said, was extremely superstitious; 
nor is this matter for wonder when we bear in mind the 
medieval atmosphere of wizardous necromancy and familiar 
spirits which she had perforce absorbed with her earliest 
education. Following the precepts of Confucius, she pre- 
served always a broad and tolerant attitude on all questions 
of religion, but, while reluctant to discuss things appertain- 
ing to the unknown gods, she was always prepared to 
conciliate them, and to allow her actions in everyday affairs 
to be guided by the words of her wise men and astrologers : 
“by dreams, and by Urim and by prophets.” Thus we 
find her in the first year of the Regency of hef son’s 
minority (j86i) issuing, in his name, a Decree, which 
carries back the mind irresistibly to Babylon and those 
days when the magicians and soothsayers were high 
personages in the State. 

“During the night of the 15th of the 7th Moon,” it begins, 
“there occurred a flight of shooting stars in the southern hemi- 
sphere ; ten days later, a comet appeared twice in the sky to the 
north-west. Heaven sends not these warnings in vain. For 
the last month Peking has been visited by a grievous epidemic, 
whereof the continued severity fills us with sore dismay. The 
Empresses Dowager have now warned us that these portents 
of Heaven are sent because of serious wrong in our system of 
government, of errors unreformed and grievances unredressed,” 

3o6 china under THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

and the Decree ends by exhorting all concerned “to put away 
frivolous* things, so that Heaven, perceiving our reverent 

attitude, may relent.’* 


In previous chapters we have shown with what punc- 
tilious attention she consulted her astrologers in regard to 
the propitious day for re-entering her capital on the Court’s 
return from exile, her anxiety far scrupulous observance 
of their advice being manifestly sincere. In her concern 
for omens and portents she seemed, like Napoleon, to obey 
instincts external and superior to another and very practical 
side of her nature, which, however, asserted itself unmis- 
takably whenever vital issues were at stake and her supreme 
authority threatened. She was at all times anxious to 
secure the good will of the ancestral spirits, whose presence 
she apprehended as a living reality ; but even with these, 
when it came to a direct issue between her own despotic 
authority and their claims to consideration, she never 
hesitated to relegate the mighty dead to the background, 
content to appease them in due season by suitable expres- 
sions of reverence and regret. The most notable instance 
of this kind occurred when, disregarding the Dynastic laws 
of succession, she deprived her son, the Emperor T’ung- 
Chih, of the rites of ancestral worship, committing thus a 
crime which, as she w^ell knew, was heinous in the eyes of 
the Chinese people. 

Her superstitious tendencies were most remarkably dis- 
played in the matter of the selection of the site of her tomb 
and its building, an occasion of which the Court geo- 
mancers took full advantage. When T’ung-Chih reached 
his majority, in 1873, his first duty was to escort the Em- 
presses Dowager to the Eastern Mausolea, where, with 
much solemnity, two auspicious sites, encircled by hills and 
watered by streams, were selected and exorcised of all evil 
influences. Further ceremonies and mystic calculations 
were required to determine the auspicious dates for the com- 
mencement of building operations; in these, and the 
adornment of the tomb, Tzu Hsi continued to take the 
keenest interest until the day of her death. In order to 
secure scrupulous regard for its construction in accordance 



with the requirements of her horoscope, and to make her 
sepulchre a fitting and all-hallowed resting-place, she 
entrusted its chief supervision to Jung Lu, who thus secured 
a permanent post highly coveted by Manchu officials, in 
which huge “squeezes” were a matter of precedent. The 
geomantic conditions of these burial-places gave unusual 
trouble, the tomb of the 4 )mpress Tzu An having eventually 
to be shifted fifteen feet two inches northwards, and four 
feet seven and a half inches westwards, before the spirits of 
her ancestors were perfectly satisfied, while that of Tzu Hsi 
was removed seven feet four inches to the north and eight 
inches to the eastward. 

Tzu Hsi feared no man. From the first moment of her 
power, secure in the sense of divine right and firmly believ- 
ing in her “star,” she savoured her authority like a rich 
wine. The pleasure she derived from delivering homilies 
to the highest officials in the Empire may be read between 
the lines of her Decrees. Already in 1862— that is to say 
before she was twenty-seven years of age — we find her 
solemnly admonishing the Grand Council on their duties, 
urging them to adopt stricter standards of conduct, and to 
put a check on their corrupt tendencies. “They are, of 
course, not debarred from seeking advice from persons 
below them in society, but let them be careful to avoid any 
attempt at forming cabals or attracting to themselves troops 
of followers.” And on another occasion, when she specially 
invited the Censors to impeach Prince Kung, she ob- 
served: “In discussing the principles of just government 
you should remember the precept of the Confucian school, 
which is, ‘Be not weary in well-doing : strict rectitude of 
conduct is the road royal to good government. Face and 
overcome your difficulties, and thus eventually earn the 
right to ease.’ ” Tzu Hsi could turn out this sort of thing, 
which appeals to every Chinese scholar, in good style and 
large quantities. She took pride in the manufacture of 
maxims for the guidance of the Mandarins, but there was 
always a suspicion that her tongue was in her.cheek while 
she carefully penned these copybook platitudes, just as we 
know there was ^hen she set herself to display what The 

3o8 china under THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Times correspondent at Peking called her “girlish 
abandon, “ in order to regain the affection of Mrs. Conger 
and the ladies of the Diplomatic Body. 

Of the Empress Dowager’s popularity and prestige with 
all classes of her subjects there is no doubt. At Peking 
especially, and throughout the metropolitan province, she 
was the object of a very general arfd very sincere affection ; 
seldom is her name spoken except with expressions of 
admiration and regard, very similar in effect to the feelings 
of the British people for Her Majesty Queen Victoria. 
Although her share of responsibility for the Boxer rising, 
and for the consequent sufferings inflicted on the people, 
was matter of common knowledge, little or no blame was 
ever imputed to the Old Buddha. Her subjects loved her 
for her very defects, for the foolhardy courage that had 
staked the Empire on a throw. Amongst the lower classes 
it was the general opinion that she had done her best, and 
with the best intentions. The scheme itself was magnificent 
— to drive the foreigner into the sea — and it appealed to 
her people as worthy of their ruler and of a better fate. If 
it had failed for this time, it was the will of Heaven, and no 
doubt at some future date success would justify her wisdom. 
If they blamed her at all, it was for condescending to 
intimate relations with the hated foreigner after the Court’s 
return to Peking; but even in this she had the sympathy 
rather than the censure of her subjects. 

To the great mass of her people, who had never seen her, 
but knew her only by cumulative weight of common report, 
the Old Buddha stood for the embodiment of courage, 
liberality and kindness of heart. If, as they knew, she were 
subject to fierce outbursts of sudden rage, the fact did her 
no injury in the eyes of a race which believes that wrath- 
matter undischarged is a virulent poison in the system. 
The simple Chihli folk made allowance, not without its 
sense of humour, for their august sovereign’s capacity to 
generate wrath-matter, as for her feminine mutability : 
to them she was a great ruler and a bon enfant. In a 
country where merciless officials and torture are part of the 
long-accepted order of things, no more !|jl:ress was laid on 



her numerous acts of cold-blooded tyranny than, shall we 
say, was laid on the beheading of earls at the close of the 
fifteenth century in England. , 

One of the writers had the good fortune once to see the 
Empress when proceeding in her palanquin to the Eastern 
tombs. She had breakfasted early at the Tung Yueh 
Temple outside the Ch^ Hua gate, and was on her way to 
T’ung Chou. As her chair passed along a line of kneeling 
peasantry, the curtains were open and it was seen that the 
Old Buddha was asleep. The good country-people were 
delighted. “Look,** they cried, “the Old Buddha is sleep- 
ing. Really, she has far too much work to do ! A rare 
woman — what a pleasure to see her thus I ” 

Tzu Hsi was recognised to be above criticism and above 
the laws which she rigorously enforced on others. For 
instance, when, a few weeks after the issue of a Decree pro- 
hibiting corporal punishment and torture in prisons, she 
caused the Reformer Shen Chin to be flogged to death 
(July 1904), public opinion saw nothing extraordinary in 
the event. A few days later, when preparations were being 
made for the celebration of her seventieth birthday, she 
issued another Decree, declining the honorific title dutifully 
proffered by the Emperor, together with its emoluments, on 
the ground that she had no heart for festivities, “being pro- 
foundly distressed at the thought of the sufferings of my 
subjects in Manchuria, owing to the destruction wrought 
there by the Russian and Japanese armies. IVIy one 
desire,*’ she added, “is that my officials may co-operate 
to introduce more humane methods of Government, so that 
my people may live to enjoy good old age, resting on 
couches of comfortable ease. This is the best way to 
honour the seventieth anniversary of my birth.** No doubt 
the shade of Shen Chin was duly appeased. 

Of her vindictive ferocity on occasions there can be no 
question. As Ching Shan admits, even her most faithful 
admirers and servants were aware that at moments of her 
wrath it was prudent to be out of her reach, or, if unavoid- 
ably present, to abstain from thwarting her.-* They knew 
that those who dared to question her absolute authority, or 


to criticise the means by which she gained and retained it, 
need look for no mercy. But they knew also that for faith- 
ful seryice and loyalty she had a royal memory and, like 
Catherine of Russia, she never forgot her friends. 

Her unpopularity in central and southern China, which 
became marked after the war with Japan and violent at the 
time of the coup d'etat, was in its prigin anti-dynastic and 
political. It was particularly strong in Kuang-tung, where 
for years Her Majesty was denounced by agitators as a 
monster of unparalleled depravity. The political opinions 
of the turbulent and quick-witted Cantonese have generally 
been expressed in a lively and somewhat ribald form, and 
when we bear in mind the popular tendency (not confined to 
the Far East) of ascribing gross immorality to crowned 
heads, we are justified in refusing to attach undue im- 
portance to the wild accusations levelled against the 
Empress Dowager in this quarter. The utterances of the 
hotspurs and lampooners of Southern China are chiefly 
interesting in that they reveal something of the vast possi- 
bilities of cleavage inherent in the Chinese Government 
system, and prove the Manchu rule to have fallen into some- 
thing like contempt in that region where the new forces of 
education and political activity are most conspicuous. 

These, however, are but local manifestations, and they 
lost much of their inspiration after the coup d'etat. The 
anti-dyn^stic tendencies noticeable in the vernacular Press 
of Shanghai, many of which assumed the form of personal 
hostility to the Empress, were also little more than the local 
result of Young China’s vague aspirations and desire for 
change, and reflected little weight of serious opinion. The 
official class and the literati as a whole were loyal to Her 
Majesty and regarded her with respect. They did not fail 
to express admiration of her wisdom and statecraft, which 
kept the Empire together under circumstances of great 
difficulty. To her selection and support of Tseng Kuo- 
fan they generally attributed China’s recovery from the 
disasters of the Taiping rebellion, and to her sagacity in 
1898 they ascribed the country’s escape from dangers of 
sudden revolution. They admitted that had it not been for 



her masterly handling of the Tsai Yiian conspiracy 
(1860-61), it is doubtful whether the Dynasty could have 
held together for a decade, and they realised, when her 
strong hand no longer grasped the helm, that the ship of 
State was likely to drift into dangerous waters. 

The everyday routine of Tzu Hsi*s life has been well 
described in Miss Card's accurate and picturesque account 
of the palace ceremonial and amusements,' the first authori- 
tative picture of la vie intime of the Chinese Court. Apart 
from a keen natural aptitude for State affairs (similar to that 
of Queen Victoria, whom she greatly admired from afar), 
Tzii Hsi maintained to the end of her days a lively interest 
in literature and art, together with a healthy and catholic 
appetite for amusement. She had an inveterate love for the 
theatre, for masques and pageants, which she indulged at 
all times and places, taking a professional interest in the 
players and giving much advice* about the performances, 
which she selected daily from a list submitted to her. It 
was a matter of comment, and some hostile criticism by 
Censors, that even during the sojourn of the Court in the 
provincial wilderness at Hsi-an, she summoned actors to 
follow the Court and perform as usual. 

Her private life had, no doubt, its phases. Of its details 
we know but little prior to the period of the restoration of 
the Summer Palace in the early ’nineties. In middle age, 
however, when she had assimilated the philosophy and 
practice of the “happy mean,” her tastes became simple and 
her habits regular. She was passionately fond of the * 
Summer Palace, of its gardens and the lake amongst the 
hills, and towards the end of her life went as seldom as 
possible into the city. She loved the freedom of the I-ho 
Yiian, its absence of formal etiquette, her water-picnics and 
the familiar intercourse of her favourite ladies, with whom 
she would discuss the day’s news and the gossip of the 
Imperial Clans. With these, especially with the wife of 
Jung Lu and the Princess Imperial, she would talk end- 
lessly of old times and make plans for the future.' 

^ Empress Dowager of China, Eveleigh Nash, 1906, 


Her love of literature and profound knowledge of history 
did much to win for her the respect of the Mandarin class, 
with whom the classics are a religion. In her reading she 
was, however, broad-minded, not to say omnivorous; it 
was her custom to spend a certain time daily in having 
ancient and modern authors read aloud by eunuchs spe- 
cially trained in elocution. She Jbelieved thoroughly in 
education, though realising clearly the danger of putting 
new wine into old skins ; and she perceived towards the 
end of her life that the rapidly changing conditions of the 
Empire had rendered the wisdom of China’s Sages of little 
practical value as a basis of administration. Her clearness 
of perception on this point, contrasted with her action in 
i8^, is indeed remarkable, but it should be remembered 
that much of her opposition to the Emperor’s policy of 
Reform was the result of personal pique and outraged 
dignity, as in the case of her decision to become a Boxer 
leader in 1900. 

Frequent reference has been made in previous chapters 
to the extravagance and licentious display of Tzd Hsi’s 
Court during the years of the first Regency. The remon- 
strances of the Censors on the subject were so numer- 
ous and outspoken, so circumstantial in their charges, 
as to leave little room for doubt that the Empress deserved 
their indignant condemnation. All the records of that 
period, and particularly from 1862 to 1869, point to the evil 
and steadily increasing influence of the eunuchs, whose cor- 
ruption and encouragement of lavish expenditure resulted 
in continual demands on the provincial exchequers. But 
even at the height of what may fairly be called her riotous 
living, Tzii Hsi always had the good grace to concur 
publicly in the virtuous suggestions of her monitors, and 
to conciliate public opinion by professions of a strong 
desire for economy. She would have her Imperial way, 
her splendid pageants and garnered wealth of tribute, but 
the Censors should have their “face.” On the occasion of 
the Emperor T’ung-Chih’s wedding in 1869, when the 
Grand Council had solemnly deprecated any increase in her 
palace expenditure because of the impoverished state of the 



people brought about by the Taiping Rebellion, she issued 
a Decree stating that “so great was her perturbation of 
mind at the prevalent sufferings of her people, that she 
grudged even the money spent on the inferior raiment she 
was wearing, and the humble fare that was served at her 
palace table.** She was, in fact, as lavish of good 
principles as of the public funds. But it is to be remem- 
bered that a large proportion of the vast sums spent on her 
palaces, on the building of her tomb, and on her Court fes- 
tivities, represents the “squeezes** of officials and eunuchs, 
which, however solemnly the Grand Council might de- 
nounce extravagance, are in practice universally recognised 
as inseparable from the Celestial system of government. 
Tzu Hsi was fully aware that much of the enormous ex- 
penditure charged to her Privy Purse went in “squeeze,** 
but she good-humouredly acquiesced in a custom as deeply 
ingrained in the Chinese as ancestral worship, and from 
which she herself derived no small profit. At her re- 
ceptions to the ladies of the Diplomatic Body she would 
frequently enquire as to the market prices of household 
commodities, in order, as she cheerfully explained, to be 
able to show her chief eunuch that she was aware of his 
monstrous overcharges. 

Combined, however, wath her love of sumptuous display 
and occasional fits of Imperial munificence, Tzu Hsi pos- 
sessed a certain housewifely instinct of thrift which, with 
advancing age, verged on parsimony. The Privy*Purse of 
China’s ruler is not dependent upon any well-defined civil 
list, but rather upon the exigences of the day, upon the 
harvests and trade of the Empire, whence, through percent- 
ages of “squeezes** levied by the provincial authorities, 
come the funds required to defray the expenses of the 
Court. ^ The uncertainty of these remittances partly 
explains the Empress Dowager’s hoarding tendencies, that 
squirrel instinct which impelled her to bury large sums 
in the vaults of the palace and to accumulate a -vast store 

^ Since the days of the Emperor ChMen- Lung, these expenses* avcragfcd 
some forty millions of taels per annum. Vide Thi Ttmes, special 
article, 7th December, 1909. 


of silks, medicines, clocks, and all manner of valuables in 
the Forbidden City. At the time of her death her private 
fortune, including a large number of gold Buddhas and 
sacrificial vessels stored in the palace vaults, was estimated 
by a high official of the Court at about sixteen millions 
sterling. The estimate is necessarily a loose one, being 
Chinese, but it was known with tolerable certainty that the 
hoard of gold ^ buried in the Ning-Shou Palace at the time 
of the Court’s flight in 1900, amounted to sixty millions of 
taels (say, eight millions sterling), and the “tribute” paid 
by the provinces to the Court at T’ai-yiian and Hsi-an 
would amount to as much more. 

Tsu Hsi was proud of her personal appearance, and 
justly so, for she retained until advanced old age a clear com- 
plexion and youthful features. [To an artist who painted 
her portrait not long before her death she expressed a wish 
that her wrinkles should be left out.] By no means free 
from feminine vanity, she devoted a considerable amount of 
time each day to her toilet, and was particularly careful 
about the dressing of her hair. At the supreme moment of 
the Court’s flight from the palace, in 1900, she was heard to 
complain bitterly at being compelled to adopt the Chinese 
fashion of head-dress. 

Her good health and vitality were always extraordinary. 
She herself attributed them chiefly to early rising, regular 
habits, and the frequent consumption of milk, which she 
usually took curdled in the form of a kind of rennet. She 
ate frugally but well, being an epicure at heart and delight- 
ing in dainty and recherche menus. Opium, like other 
luxuries, she took in strict moderation, but greatly enjoyed 
her pipe after the business of the day was done. It was her 
practice then to rest for an hour, smoking at intervals, a 
siesta which the Court knew better than to disturb. She 
fully realised the evils wrought by abuse of the insidious 
drug, and approved of the laws, introduced by the initiative 
of T‘ang Shao-yi and other high officials, for its abolition. 
But her fellow-feeling for those who, like herself, could use 

^ The nucleus of this hoard was the money confiscated from the 
usurping Regent Su Shun in 1861. 



it in moderation, and her experience of its soothing and 
stimulating effect on the mind, led her to insist that the 
Abolition Decree (November 22nd, 1906) should not deprive 
persons over sixty years of age of their accustomed solace. 
She was, in fact, willing to decree prohibition for the 
masses, but lenient to herself and to those who had suffi- 
ciently proved their capacity to follow the path of the 
happy mean. 

Such was Tzu Hsi, a woman whose wonderful person- 
ality and career cannot fail to secure for her a place amongst 
the rulers who have become the standards and pivots of 
greatness in the world’s history. The marvellous success 
of her career and the passionate devotion of her partisans 
are not to be easily explained by any ordinary process of 
analysis or comparison ; but there is no doubt that they 
were chiefly due to that mysterious and indefinable quality 
which is called “charm,” a quality apparently independent 
alike of morals, ethics, education, and what we call civilisa- 
tion ; universal in its appeal, irresistible in its effect upon 
the great majority of mankind. It was this personal charm 
of the woman, combined with her intense vitality and acces- 
sibility, that won for her respect, and often affection, even 
from those who had good reason to deplore her methods 
and deny her principles. This personal charm, this subtle 
and magnetic emanation, was undoubtedly the secret of 
that stupendous power with which, for good or*evil, she 
ruled for half a century a third of the population of the 
earth ; that charm it was that won to her side the bravest 
and best of China’s picked men, and it is the lingering 
memory and tradition of that charm which already invest 
the name of the Old Buddha with attributes of legendary 
virtue and superhuman wisdom. 

Europeans, studying the many complex and unexpected 
phases of her extraordinary personality from the point of 
view of western moralities, have usually emphasised and 
denounced her cold-blooded ferocity and homicidal rage. 
Without denying the facts, or extenuating -Tier guilt, it 
must, nevertheless, be admitted that it would be unjust to 


expect {rom ;her compliance with standards of morals and 
conduct -of which she was perforce ignorant ; and that, 
judged by the standards of her own predecessors and con- 
temporaries, and by the verdict of her subjects, she is not 
to be reckoned a wicked woman. Let it be remembered 
also that within comparatively recent periods of British 
history, death was dealt out with no niggard or gentle hand 
to further the alleged interests olf the State; men were 
hanged, drawn and quartered in the days of Elizabeth and 
Mary Stuart, gentle ladies both, and averse to the spilling of 
blood, for the greater glory of Thrones, and in the defence 
of the Christian religion. 

Tzii Hsi died as she had lived, keen to the last, impatient 
of the bonds of sickness that kept her from the new day’s 
wcHrk, hopeful ever fpr the future. Unto the last her 
thoughts were of the Empire, of that new plan of Consti- 
tutional Government wherein she had come to see' visions 
of a new and glorious era for China and for herself. And 
when the end came, she faced it, as she had faced life, with 
a stout heart and brave words, going out to meet the 
Unknown as if she were but starting for a summer picnic. 
Reluctantly she bade farewell to the world of men, to the 
life she had lived with so keen a zest ; but, unlike England’s 
Tudor Queen, she bowed gracefully to the inevitable, 
leaving the scene with steadfast and Imperial dignity, 
confident in her high destinies to come. 


Actors* Palace, 56 
Admiralty, vide Navy. 

Adviser to tfie Government, vide Prince 
Kung, also Prince Ch*un. 

Adviser to the Regency, vide Prince 

Aisin Gioros, vide ‘‘Imperial Clans- 

A-Lu-Tc, Empress (Chia Shun), 75-8, 
80“3, suicide of, 85 

Ancestor worship, 5, 78, 101-2, 288-9 

Ancestral tablet, 295-6 

An Te-hai (chief eunuch), 33, 55, 57-9 ; 

arrest and execution, 59, 60 
An Wei-A'un (censor), 1 16-17 
Army, 138, 163 ; law re women in 
camp, 305 

Astrologers and Astronomers, 30, 74 
Audiences, Procedure at, vide Cere- 

“ Benign Countenance,** 42 
Berlin, Mission to, 238-41 
Big Sword Society, 169 
Birthday celebrations, 112-14, 281 
Black List (1900), 52 
Board of Regents, 33 
Board of Rites, 12S-30 
Boxer Movement, 171-8 ,* burning 
of foreign quarters at Peking, 176- 
7 ; some causes, 1 14, 244-6 ; execu- 
tion of Boxer chiefs, 195 ; lesson of, 
261 ; Li Lien-ying’s inQuence on, 
67-8; mystic evolutions and magic 
rites, 172, 175, 192 ; protection for 
foreigners, 176, 178, 185 ; TxCi Hsi*s 
attitude* towards, 181, 186-7, 231, 
259 ; victims, 185, i92-4» 198, 207 
British Minister, 148-9, 156 
Brooks, Rev., 169 note 
Bruce,* Sir F., 22 

Burial Ceremonies, vide Ceremonies. 

Caligraphy, Edict rr, 131 
Carl, Miss, 31 1 

Censorate, 31, 78; protest against 

selection of Heir, 85; remonstrance 
to Hsi, 106, III, 312 ; attack on 
Li Hung-chang, 1 16 ; on Education 
reform, 128-9 

Ceremonies, audiences, 46, 80, 120, 
146, 168, 225 ; before ancestral 
tablet, 295-6; burial, 14, 15, 17, 
92; Dalai Lama, special ceremony, 
281-2 ; death and funeral, 34-7, 
48-9, III, 287, M2-93; sacrifice to 
tutelary deities, 23 ; visit of Tzfi Hsi 
to parents, 9, 10 

Chang Chih-tung, 151; character, 191; 

abolition of examination system, 265 
Chang Tc-ch*eng, 193 
Chang Yin-huan, 125, 137 ; imprison- 
ment, 151 note\ banishment, 156 
Chao, Duke, 6 
Chao Sbu-ch'iao, 182, 209 
Cheng, Prince, vide Tuan Hua. 

Ch’en Pao-chen, 123, 132 
Ch’cn Tu-en, 41 

Chia Shun, Empress, vide ^-Lu-Te. 
Chia To, 56 

Clhia Yi (quoted), 201-2 •• 

Ch’ien Lung, Emperor, loi 
Ch*i Hsiu, 178, 180 
China, location of new capital of, dis- 
cussed, 246-7 

Ch’ing, Prince, 171, 284 ; attitude to- 
wards Boxers, 178, 184 ; peace nego- 
tiations, 219, 239, 249 ; reception of 
Tail Hsi at Peking, 251-2 ; as custo- 
dian of mausolea, 283 and note 
Ching Hsin, 166 * 

Ching Shan, 166-7 ; extracts from 
diary, 167-216 ; death, 214 
Ching Yiian-shan, 150 
Chi Shou-ch’ing, 169 
Chiu Min, 58 note 
Ch’i Ying, 11-12 

Chou Dynasty, 16 ; and eunuch system, 


Chou Tsu-p*ei, 36 

Christianity, converts assured protec- 
tion, 246 

Christians, massacre of, 194 * 

Chuang, Prince, Commander-in-Chief 
of Boxers, 183 ; massarj-e of Chris- 
tians, 194 ; in disgrace,* 195 
Ch’un, House of, 4 

Ch*un, Prince (Regent), 4, 79, 278 ; in- 
fant son nominated Heir, 81-2, 272 ; 

3*7 • 



Adviser to the Empresges Regent, 
86 ; mission to Berlii^, 238-41 ; ap- 
pointed Regent, 289-91 
Chun, Prince (the first), 4, 5, 274; 
head of Admiralty Board, 65; Ad- 
viser to Grand Council, 106, 107; 
illness and death, xii; I uneral cere- 
monies, 112 
Ch’ung Ch*i, 245 

Clan Imperial, vide Imperial Clansmen. 
Classical Essays, 125, 16 1 
Cobbler’s Wax ” Li, vide Li Lienyin. 
Cold Palace,*’ 28 
Colleges, 132 

Confucius, 53, 200, 305, 307 
Conservative Party, 128 et seq. 
Conspiracy of Regents, vide Tsai Yuan. 
Corea, 115, 116 

Council, Grand, vide Grand Council. 
Court Ceremonies, vide Ceremonies. 
Court in exile, 224-232; return *.to 
Peking, ,242-57 
Court physicians, 277, 284 

Dalai Lama, visit to Peking, 275, 279, 
281-2 ; miraculous image, 282-3 
Decrees; (1860-65), 21-5, 43, 49, 
56 - 7 » 305 ; Army reform, 135, 
163 ; re Boxers, 235 ; cancels Boxer 
edicts, 235; constitutional govern- 
ment, 267-8 ; conversion to Reform, 

262- 3 > classical examination system, 
161, 265; re Censor An Wei-chun, 
116-117 ; re Chinese and Manchus, 

263- 4; dismissal of Prince Kung, 
47; re execution of all foreigners, 
199 ; expiatory, 245; Foreign Min- 
isters’ audiences, 250 ; Heir Ap- 
parent, 214-15; re Imperial Succes- 
sion, 288, 289; r-e Jung Lu, 249, 270- 
i; re Kang Yu-wei, 139, 165; re 
Kuang Hstl’s illness, 149; Kuang 
Hsii’s valedictory, 286, 287 ; re law- 
suits, 162, 266 ; re Opium traffic, 265 ; 
re Pearl concubine, 253; peniten- 
tial, 235-6, 245, 257; position of 
Emperor’s father, 106-8 ; re P’u Yi, 
288-9; Reform Edicts, 128-35; 
gency, 290; return to Peking, 231; 
Tung Chih’s majority, 74; Tung 
Chilvs illness, 77 ; Tzii Hsi’s sixtieth 
birthday, 1 13-14; Tzii Hsi’s policy, 
158 ; Tzii Hsi’s valedictory, 293 

Diplomatic Body, 167, 178-9, 181, 183 
Du Chaylard, 181 

Edicts, vide Decrees. 

Educational Reform, 264-5, 283 
Elephant, Tzii Hsi’s, 281 

Elgin, Loid, 11, 21-2 
Empress Consort (Tzh An), videTzu An. 
Empress Dowager, vide Tzii Hsi and 

Empress Dowager, widow of Kuang 
HsU (Lung YU), 4, 118, 144, 253, 
275, 290-1 

Empress Grand Dowager, TzU Hsi. 
Empress of the East, vide TzU An. 
Empress of the West, vide TzU Hsi. 

En Hai, 184, 215-16 
En Ming, En Ch’u, En Ch’un, En Lin, 
sons of Ching Shan, 167-216 
Etiquette, vide Ceremonies. 

Eunuch system, 51-2, 54 fta/e ; influ- 
ence of, on Ming Dynasty, 292 ; 
power of, 53, 234 ; present position, 
73 ; regulations for, 53 
Examination system, caligraphy, 131 ; 
reform of, 128-9 » reforms abo- 
lished, 1 60- 1 

Flight oi Court to Jehol, 23-5 ; from 
Peking, 209-13, 217-24 
Foot-binding, Edict re, 264 
French Cathedral, Peking, 177, 189, 

Gazettes, official, 131, 139 
German Emperor, reception of Prince 
Chun, 239-40 

German Minister, vide Ketteler, Baron 

Gordon, General, 10 
Government Gazette, vide Gazettes, 

Grand Council, 24, 80-2, 84, 141-2, 
179, 284 ; admonished by Tzii Hsi, 
307 ; appointment of adviser, 106- 
8 ; dismissal of, 105 
Gros, Baron, 22-5 

Han Dynasty, 41, 172 
Han Yi-li, 193 

Heir Apparent (Ta-a-Ko, licng Chin), 
*7o» I93~4 » appointment of, 195 ; 
description, 233-4, 236 ; deposed, 
237 ; at Hsi-an-fu, 229 ; stories of, 
201, 225 

Heng-Ching, vide Heir Apparent. 

Ho Shen, 38 

Hsi-an-fu, Court at, 228-30 
Hsicn-Feng (Emperor), 2, 8 ; burial, 
33, 48-9 ; character, 1 1 ; confirma- 
tion of Peace Treaty, 25 ; death, 30, 
33 ; at Jehol, 18 ; nuptial eciict, 8 ; 
tomb, 49 

Hsvian T’ung (P’u Yi, Child Emperor), 
4, 5 ; nominated Heir, 285-6, 288-9 



HsU Chih-cheng, 205-6 
FTsU Chi-ching, 151 note 
HsU Shih-ch’ang, ^ 

HsU T’ung, I2I-2, 177, 183 ; peace 
negotiations, 245 ; suicide, 213 
HsU Ying-K’nei, 128-30, 141, 159; 

plot against, 137 
Hsu Yung-yi, 207-8 
Huai Ta-pu, 130, 137, 141 
•Hui Chang, 157 
Hui Cheng (Tzfi Hsi*s father), 

Hundred Days’ Reform, 128-35 

1 -H<) Yuan, 7 nde Summer Palace. 
Imperial Clansmen, 3-5, 301 ; Grand 
Council Meeting, 181 ; influence of, 
274 ; opposition to reforms, 268 ; 
and question of succession, 78;, and 
TrU Hsi, 46, 146, 268 
Imperial concubines, 8-9 
Imperial Succession, vide Succession 

Iron-capped princes, 2, 5 

Jade Emperor, 172 and note ; Duke 
Lan’s vision, 184 
James, Professor, 185* 

Japan, war with, 1 13-14; cause o» 
disasters, 66 ; Peace Treaty, 117 
Jehol, Court at, 25 et seq. 
judicial Reforms, 262 
Jung Lii, an appreciation 01, 152-3; 
and Eunuch An Te-hai, 55 ; and 
Legations 178, 185, 193, 196, 199- 
203 ; and Li Lien Ying, 71 ; and 
plot against TzQ Hsi, 134 ; and 
Reformers, 125, 15 1 ; and Tsai 

Yuan Conspiracy, 34-5 ; and Ts’cn 
Ch’un-hsUan, 69 ; and Weng T’ung- 
ho, 122 ; assists at choice of heir to 
throne, 80; as statesman, 152-3 ; at 
death -bjed of T’ung Chih, 77 ; at T’ai 
Yuan fu, 226 ; commander-in-chief, 
152; death, 270; his corupt 
practices, 226-7 ; his daughter, 119 ; 
his wifoi 187 note ; illness of, 254 ; 
in disgrace, 102-3 ; intimacy with 
Yehonala, 7-28 ; military reforms, 
132 ; opposes Boxers, 152, 171-2 ; 
i8o-* 2, 189-91, 197, 221 ; plot 

against, 137, 140; restored, 113, 249 ; 
telegram to Yangtsze Viceroys, 189- 
91 ; TzU Hsi’s adviser, 200-1, 208- 
9, 255 ; viceroy of Chih-ii, 26 ; 
withholds artillery from Boxers, 

“Ju-yi” jade, 57 

K’ang Hsi, Emperor, 33, 98 

Kaug Yi, 1 19 and note ; Boxer move- 
ment, 13 1, 177 ; and HsU T’ung, 

X22-4 ; death, 22S ; influence over 
TzU Hsi, 163, 209 ; plot against, 

137 ^ 

K’ang Yu-wei, 2, 7, 124 ; denounced 
by HsU Ying-k’uei, 129 ; flight from 
Peking, 13^9, 148 ; plot against 
TzU Hsi, 126-7, 13L 137, ISS 
Kansuh soldiery, 176, 185, 187, 1 94 
Kao, Taoist abbot, 275 
Ketteler, Baron von, 184, 200 
Kuang-HsU, Emperor(Tsai Tien), 82-7, 
loo-ioi ; and Prince Tuan, 226 ; 
arrest of, 1 42-3 ; assumes govern- 
ment, 109 et seq. >^at audience, 168-9 ; 
advice on question of war, 182 ; 
British intervention on behalf of, 
148-9 ; deposition of, 167-9 ; flight 
from Peking, 209-13 ; his concu- 
bines, III; his consort, no; 
Hundred Days' Reform, 128-35 ; 
illness and death, 272, 276-7, 28(^7: 
and Li Lienying, 67, 227, 27 1 ; party 
in support of, 156, 159 ; prison life 
of, 146 et seq. ; question of validity 
of succession, 88 ; return to Peking, 

Kuang Shun, 166 note , 

Kuei Ching, 76-7 
Kuei Hsiang, Duke, 6 
Kuei Jen, 8 
Kuei Liang, 21, 36 
Kuei Pao, 76 
Kung, Duke, 231 

Kung, Prince (candidate tor Throne), 79 
Kung, Prince (son of Tao-Kuang), 4, 
loi, 1 19, 124; adviser to Govern- 
ment, 45 ; and An-Te-hai, 58-60, 
61, 79 ; assists Yehonala against 

Tsai Yuan, 30 et seq. ; at nomination 
of Heir to I'hrone, 79, 8o-8a ; 
death of, 123 ; degraded, 47, 105- 
6 ; his daughter, Princess Imjjerial, 
45-6 ; plenipotentiary, 18, 20- i, ?5 ; 
reinstated, 48, 49-50, 106 
K’un Hsiu, 173 

Lan, Duke, vide Tsai Lan. 

Li, Prince, 106, 119, 188-9 
Liang Ch’i-ch’ao, 132, 155 
Liang Hai-lou, 19 
Liao Shou-heng, 119-24 
Lien Y'uan, 207-8 

Li Hung-chang, 65 ; Boacer Movement, 
239, 242-4 ; death, *249 ; and 

Japanese War, 66, 114^ 116; post- 
humous honour^, 249 ; Yellow 
River repairs, 162 



Li Hung-tsao, 121 

La Licn-ying (chief eui^iich), 51-2, 62, 
251 ; and Dalai Lama, 275 ; and 
Heir Apparent, 233 ; and Jung Lu, 
227 ; .and Kuang HsU, 67, 120, 143; 
at Zoological Gardens, 280-1 ; 
Boxer Movement, 52, 67, 173, 177; 
character, 63; control of Govern- 
ment finance, 65-6; fortune of, 64; 
illegal practices, 64; in disgrace, 
68-9; influence over Tail Hsi, 72; 
restoration to favour, 70, 73 
Lin-HsU, 137, 139 

Li Ping-heng, 198, 204-6; suicide, 208 
Li Shan, 207-8 
Li Tuan-fen, 137 , 

Liu, General, 208 ‘ 

Liu Kuang- ti, 137 

litt K*un-yi (viceroy), 151, 159; Boxer 
movement, 187-9 
Lu, Empress, 41 
Ltt Hai-huan, 239 

Lung Yu, vide Empress Dowager, widow 
of Kuang HsU. 

“Lustrous” (concubine), in, 280 

Macdonald, Sir Claude, 148 
Manchus: dangers to dynasty, 263; 
clansmen, i, 4; eunuch system, 53- 
4, 264; houlse law, 96-7, 272 and 
' 292; rule in China, i, 181-2; 


Manchus versus Chinese, 1 22 et seq,y 
143; 150, 156-7 

Massacre of Chinese Christians, 194 
Ma Yu-K*un, General, 213, 220 
Memorials — 

An-Wei-chun, n6 
Censorate, iiij 215-16 
HsU Ying-ku’ei, 128-9 
Hui Chan'g 157 
Jung Lu, 200-1 
Li Hung-chang, 243 
Prince Chun, 86, 239-40 
re Eunuchs, 56, 59-to 
Southern Viceroys, 190-1 
Wu K’o-tu, 90-4, 95-8 
Yuan Ch’ang and HsU Ching-ch’eng, 
194, 204 

Yu Lu, Viceroy, 200 
Militia train-bands, 163 
Ming Dynasty, 1, 96; and Eunuch 
system, 51, 292 
Muyanga, 2, 8 
Mu Yin, 22 

Na, Prince, 213 
Na, Tung, 178 
Navy, 65-6 

Ninhulu, 6 

North and South factions, 120-3 

Nurhachi, i, 264 

Ocean Terrace, 142 
Official Gazettes, see Gazettes. 

Old Buddha, vide Tzii Hsi. 
Opium-smoking, 265, 314-15 

Parkis, Sir Harry, 15, 19, 184 
“ Patriotic Harmony,” 167 
Peace : negotiations, 23b, 247-50, 

299 ; protocol signed, 238 
“Pearl” (concubine), m, 143-4; 
fate of, 210; posthumous honours, 


Peking (i860), 1 5-20 ; ( 1900) bombard- 
ment, 198, 209, 220 ; effect of Peace 
rotocol on, 238; Legations bom- 
arded by Boxers, 176-7, 196, 200, 
203; reinforcements for Legations, 
68, 171-2, 174-S, 194 
P’in, 8 

Po Chun, 26-7 , • 

Police (Peking), 6 * 

Posts and Comrrfunications, 266 
Press ; foreign, 268 ; vernacular, 238, 
297-8, 310 ; quoted, 268-9 
Princess Imperial, 45, 119, 253, 311 
Progressives, lya et seq. 

P’u Lun, Prince, 4, 285 
P’u Yi, vide Hsuan T^ung. 

Red Girdles, vide Imperial Clansmen. 
Reform Decrees of Emperor Kuang 
HsU, 125-6, 128-135, 138, 140; 
public opinion on, 147-8 
Reform leaders, execution of, 154 
Regency, joint, of Empresses Dowager 

Regency ol Tzu Hsi : First, 40-50 ; 

Second, 77-108; Third. i^jSetseq. 
Rewards for capture of Europeans, 22, 
189, 193; proclamation, 198 
Russia, 20, 123, 244 

Sakota, 8, 10; burial, 48 
Seal, Imperial, 29-30 ; 199 
Seng, Prince, 13, 18-19, 25 
Seng Ko Lin Cldin, Prince, 22-3 
Shansi, 228, 231 
Shen Chin, 309 
Sheng, General, 18, 19 
Sheng Pao, 304-5 
Sheng Yu, 107 
Shun-Chih, Emperor, 33, 53 
Smallp>ox, 77 note 
Su, Prince, 213 



Succession, Imperial, 78-84, 88-90, 
285-6 ; 288-9 » protest re 94-9 
Su^yama, Mr., iJIS 
Suicide, patriotic, 89-99 
Summer Palace (I-Ho Yuan), destruc- 
tion of, 18, 230; rebuilding of, 65, 
66, 109, 1 12-13, 31 1 
Sun (eunuch), 71 
Sun Chia-nai, 168, 232 
Sung Dynasty, 96 
Sung Po-tu, 128, 130, 142 
Sun Yu-wen, 106 

Su Shun ‘(usurping Regent), 26-8; 
Tsai Yuan conspiracy, 29 et seq , ; 
condemnation of, 38 

Ta-a-Ko, vide Heir-Apparent 
Ta Ching Emperors, i , 

Taiping Rebellion, lo-ii, 13, 313 
Tai-Tsung, Empress, 33 
Taku Forts, 13, 194 
T*an Chung-lin, 165 
T*ang Shao-yi, 52 
Tan Ssu-t’ung, 137, 165 
Tao-Kuangt Emperor, 2, 4; nuptial 
edict, 8; death, 10 
T*ao Mo (viceroy), 73* 

Tientsin, 194, 201-2 
Tien-T*sung, Emperor, i 
Timesy The^ quoted 295-6 
Times Correspondent, interview with 
Li Hung-chang, 244 
Ting, Admiral, 66 
Ting Pao-chen, 59 
Train-bands, patriotic, 170 
Treaty of Commerce, 22, 25 
Tribute, Provincial, 58, 70-72 
Tsai Ch'u, Prince, 146-7 
Tsai Feng, vide Chun, Prince. 

Tsai Lan, Duke, 166-7, 186 ; and 
Boxers, 68, 176-7, 183-4, 209 
Tsai Tien, vide Kuang-HsU. 

Tsai Ts6, Duke, 267 * 

Tsai Yuan, 3, 31 ; conspiracy, 26 
et seq . ; arrest of, 36 
Ts’en Ch’^jn-hsiian, 69-70, 223-4 
Ts6ng, Marquis, 65 
Tseng Ho, 159 

Tseng Kuo-fan, 3, 24, 32, 310 
Tsungdi Yamen, 169, 183 
Tso Tsung-t^ang, 94 
Ts’ui (eunuch), 70 

Tuan, Prince (Boxer), 45, 169 ; Boxer 
movement, 17 1-2, 178, 207-8; and 
Li Lien Ying, 67 ; forged document, 
202; Imperial seal, 199; in dis- 
grace, 195, 202-3; relations with 
Tzh Hsi, 213, 220; son of, Heir 
Apparent, 168 

Tuan Fang, 291 

Tuan Hua, P^nce, 26, 39 

Tun, Prince, 2, 87 

Tung Chih, Emperor, 40, 43, 72 ; 
death, 77 ; funeral, 89, 100 f m^ority 
of, 74 ; succession to, 83, 284-5 > 
unborn heir, 83 ; wife of, vide 

Tung Fu-hsiang, General, 195-6 ; de- 
nounces Jung Lu, 175, 197 

Tung YUan-ch^n, 33 

Tzu An (Empress Dowager, of the 
East), 43-50, 81-82 ; and Prince 
Kung, 59 ; and Kuang-Hsti, 100 ; 
illness and death, 104 ; quarrels with 
Tzu Hsi, 6 1, 10^103 

Tzu Hsi, Empress Dowager {see also 
Yehonala); appoints Kuang HsU's 
successor, 167-8 ; character, 299- 
303; charm of manner, 315; com- 
pared with Queen Elizabeth, 108, 
III, 301-2, 316; compared with 
Mary Stuart, 316 ; compared with 
Queen Victoria, 308, 31 1 ; compared 
with Catherine of Russia, 310 ; con- 
templates suicide, 208 ; courage, 195, 
302-3, 307 ; death and burial, 292- 
5 ; despotic nature, 78-84 ; diet 
and habits, 229-30, 31^; Empress 
DowJ^er and Co-Re^nt, 37 et'seq. ; 
extravagance, 312-13 ; femiintte 
vanity, 314; fits of rage, 61, 173; 
flies from Peking, 209-13; 217-33; 
health, 314 ; her eunuchs, 51-73 ; her 
Privy Purse, 1 14, 313 ; her sister, 79 ; 
impartiality, 1 57, 249, 304 ; in retire- 
ment, 109-18; kindness of heart, 162; 
last words, 292 ; love of literature, 
312; love of theatre, 31 1 ; names 
and titles, 12, 44, 290. 293-4; on 
Manchurule, 181-2; opmm smoking, 
265, 314-15 ; parentage, childhood 
and education, 1-12 ; penitent, 235- 
7, 245-6, 272 ; personal appearance, 
233, 314; policy towards European 
Powers, 250, 254-5 ; policy towards 
Manchus, 304; prestigCj 294-308; 
quarrels with Co- Regent, 100-3 * 
receives wives of Foreign Ministers, 
148, 163, 202, 251, 254-5, 269; 
reform policy, 119-27, 164 {see also 
under Decrees) ; Regency, First 
(1861-73), 4«>-50; Second (1875- 
89), 77-108 ; Third (1898-1^), 136 
et seq. ; relations with Boxers, 177, 
181, 186-7, 195, 259, 261-3;* rela- 
tions with Jung Lu, vide Jung Lu ; 
relations with Kuang HsU, 117-18, 
167 ; relations with Legations, 293 ; 



relations •with Prince Kung, 32 et 
seq.y 45-50; relation^ with Prince 
Tuan, vidt Tuan, Prince ; seventy- 
third birthday, 281 ; sickness of, 
275, 282-4; sixtieth birthday, II 2 ~ 
14; statecr^t, 161-3; superstitious 
nature, 74, 192, 242, 248, 305-6; 
thrifty instincts, 314-15 ; tomb, 306- 
7 ; Tsai YUan conspiracy} 26-39 ; 
unpopularity, 310; vindictiveness, 
224-5 ; violates succession laws, 84, 

Vernacular Press, vide Press. 

Victoria, Queen, 275, 308 

Wang Wen Shao,* 209, 217, 252; 

account of flight from Peking, 219-22 
Wan Li, Emperor, i 
Wei Chung, 53 
Wen Ching, 2, 298 

Weng T*ung-ho, 106, 119, 120-1, 123, 
125-6 ; and Jung Lu, 102 ; Russian 
policy of, 121 ; dismissal, 159 ; 
retirement and death, 160. 

Wen Hsi, 76 
Wen T’i, 130, 250 
Wu, Empress, 41 

Wu K*o-tu^ 272 ; memorial on ques- 
tion of succi^Ssion, 95-9 ; suicide, 89 
WdYung, 218 
Yangjui, 151, 154 

Yangkunu, Prince, i 
Yang Shen-hsiu, 128, 130, 137 
Yeh (viceroy), 12, 2 f*' 

Yehonala (Imperial concubine), vide 
Tzii Hsi. 

Yehonala Clan, 3, 86, 107, 291 
Yellow Girdles, vide Imperial Clans- 
men. ^ 

Yellow River, 16^ 

Yen-Ch’ing-chou, 218 
‘ ‘ Yi 'y concubine). See Yehonala. 

Yi, Pnnee (Tsai Yuan), 22, 23 
Ying Tsiing, Emperor, 8l ‘ 

Young China, 119, 259, 268-9, 297, 

Yuan Ch*ang, 183, i86 ; decapitation 
of, 205, 206; denounces Boxers, 194, 

Yuan Shih-k’ai, 174, 285-6 ; and 
eunuch system, 52 ; birthday cere- 
* monies, 278-9 ; reform policy, 136- 
9 » 265 ; relations with TzU Hsi, 
1 40- 1, 249 ; retirement, 144 
YU Hsien, 167, 169 ; massacre of mis- 
sionaries, 199, 203, 2245 suicide, 

Yu Huang, Jade* Emperor, 172, 184 
Yu Lu (viceroy), 13 1 ; Boxer move- 
ment, 156, 178, 194, 200, 204; plot 
against, 137 ; suicide, 208 

Zoological Gardens at Peking, 280-1 

Richard Clt^^Santt Limited^ Landen aetd Bungay, 

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